These six classes give Reno its
depth and diversity, while they all
deliver on their own relative speeds,
nudging the 500-mph mark at the
upper end of the brackets.
knots above what his comfort zone
allowed during training.
Austin Priester, EAA 766549, from
Los Angeles, arrived in the Pitts S-1C
he spent three years constructing to
advance his aerobatic skills—but he
had yet to get it upside down for anything other than the maneuvering
required in the PRS syllabus.
Austin served as an Airborne
Ranger in the U.S. Army and, afterward, answered an internal call to
act. Los Angeles rewarded his physical and mental abilities with work
as a stuntman and actor, while sport
parachuting and flying aerobatics
helped feed his need for speed.
He came to Reno last September
and found himself drawn to training
to race his Pitts as a way to further hone his pilot skills. “I want to
become a better pilot, learn a very
different kind of flying, and test my
comfort zone,” Austin explained on
his first day flying.
In addition to the Formula One,
Jet, and Biplane classes, pilots campaigned in three other Reno classes:
the North American T- 6, homebuilt
Sport planes, and the no-holds-barred Unlimited racers.
The T- 6 class, including four race rookies, is
briefed by instructor Jim
Booth before their first
flight around the course.
PYLON RACING SEMINAR
Any pilot can apply; it’s a matter of
will, willpower, and skill.
The PRS training pushes all
rookie students to test their comfort
zones; for many the test isn’t so much
about pushing planes to the max but
nudging their flying to the edges of
their comfort envelope and the very
thin line of their nerve.
Before a Reno racer flies in the
world’s fastest motor sport, that
dream faces a check flight to end four
days of intensive aviating. Only then
do they hold the document proclaiming them a certified racer, prepared
for Reno—the real test.
Racing an airplane, against other
pilots in other airplanes, wingtip-to-wingtip, at maximum speeds and at
uncomfortably low altitudes—that’s
Reno. Six categories and as many
pylon courses, each one a length
calculated to keep the racers in a constant state of turning, in plain sight of
LEF T: Austin Priester, a
spent three years
building the Pitts S-1C he
plans to race at Reno this
and passing by the flightline bleachers about every minute.
Before a pilot straps in for the PRS,
the airplanes face their own hurdles, a
tech inspection specific to each class.
Jim Booth, lead instructor for the T- 6
Class, explained: “Each class gets its
class, rules from the association for that
class—the Formula Ones from their
group, the jets from theirs, the T- 6 from
ours, the T- 6 Racing Association. Each
airplane is subject to a tech inspection
to assure race officials that, first, the
aircraft is airworthy.