The military’s F-22 Raptor and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will headline the event, which takes off at the Reno Stead Airport from Sept. 14 through 18. The air races are touted as the world’s fastest motor sport, and the event brings some $70 million to $80 million annually to the local economy.
“The air races are a major shot in the arm for Nevada’s struggling economy,” Sen. Harry Reid said Tuesday during a press conference at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, where he was recognized for his support of the air races. “The F-22 Raptors will make this event even better.”
Reid, who took a short break from talking about banning legal prostitution to attend the press conference, said the F-22 Raptors are flown by the most capable and precise pilots in the world.
“The people that are going to be here performing are all-stars,” he said, adding the F-22 Raptor is one of the most powerful and deadly weapons the U.S. military possesses.
Reid said he expects the F-22 to draw a larger crowd of spectators than usual to the air show, which hosts an average of 200,000 guests per year.
“They’ve done it everywhere they have gone,” Reid said.
The F-22 Raptor was built specifically for the U.S. Air Force by Lockheed Martin and put into operation in 2005, a press release from Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) states.
“Today, this unique aircraft, originally conceived in the early 1980s to confront and defeat the Soviet Air Force during the height of the Cold War, is the most powerful and deadly airborne weapon in the world,” the release states. “The pilots of these remarkable aircraft are known for their incredible precision and stunning maneuvers including the power loop, split and tail slide.”
The F-22 Raptors will grace the skies Sept. 16 through 18, RARA President and CEO Mike Houghton said.
Houghton on Tuesday thanked Reid for his continued support of the Reno air races.
“We appreciate the longtime support of our congressional leaders, especially Sen. Reid,” he said. “(The races are) a staple of the community and Sen. Reid recognizes the importance of our success each year.”
The theme for the 2011 races and show is No Limits, which Houghton said will be apparent in every aspect of the event.
“It’s going to be an exciting year because our theme is No Limits, and that describes the event to a T,” Houghton said. “No limits in the racing. No limits in the fun. No limits in the excitement.”
In addition to the F-22 Raptor team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform Sept. 14 and 15.
“The U.S. Thunderbirds have wowed audiences with their remarkable demonstrations since 1953,” the RARA release states. “And they continue pushing the limits of their own abilities when they fly.”
Additionally, entertainment will include the L-39 Patriot Jets team and the Navy Leap Frog team.
“The L-39 Patriot Jets team is best known for their computerized red, white and blue smoke system as well as the infamous ‘tail slide’ where the aircraft actually slides backwards toward the ground,” the release states. “The Navy Leap Frog parachute team features 14 jumpers that leap out of aircrafts at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet, free falling at speeds up to 180 miles per hour while creating amazing canopy formations with their signature blue and gold parachutes.”
High-speed aerobatic performances from Eddie Andreini, David Martin and Jim Pietz also will take place. Spectators can expect to see low-level maneuvers, aerobatic performances and unexpected thrills, the RARA release states.
“They’re gonna show you what you really shouldn’t do with the family airplane,” Houghton joked.
On the racing side, Houghton said planes will fly at record-breaking speeds, with qualifying rounds taking place Sept. 12 through 14, and final competitions taking place Sept. 14 through 18.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.airrace.org.