Friday, September 24, 2010

fly low, fly fast, turn left

Reno Air Races last weekend with Will, Nate, and Bill. Stayed at Nate's cabin and drove in to Reno for the fun. Some highlights:

* another bear intrusion - Nate was the one to find it this time. The bear managed to turn on the stove, which is a scary thought...luckily the burner actually stayed lit until Nate got there, rather than snuffing out and spewing gas into the place. Another piece of luck: there was a wooden cutting board over the burner...the flame burned a hole right through it, but the rest of the board stayed unburned.

* anti-bear efforts - Nate installed a crazy strong steel storm door, boarded up the other door, set ammonia containers around the cabin, and came up with a Macguyver-worthy trick of splicing an extension cord into a motion-sensor, then plugging aquarium pumps into the cord and feeding the attached tubes to a few ammonia containers. acrid burst to hopefully turn away a nose-sensitive bear. Add to all of that a removal of all food items, pulling the blinds all the way closed to hopefully disguise a large picture window, and leaving a radio on at high volume, and hopefully the bear is discouraged from trying again.

* good times - dinners with the gang at PF Chang's and Samurai Sushi...tasty food and fun company.

* the Snowbirds - Canada's precision flying jet team. Much like the Blue Angels, though they flew a bit slower and held their formations for much longer [through approach, loops/turns, and exit]. Some beautiful formations like the Maple Leaf and a crossover [where one plane flew in a figure-eight around and through the others arrayed at four corners] were goosebump-inducing.

* the pit pass - if you ever go, I highly recommend getting the pit pass for a get to go into an area that isn't open to the general public, walking around seeing all classes of planes parked and ready to be ogled. You also get access to some awesome standing room right at the edge of the tarmac, with great views of taxiing aircraft.

* the military section - an incredible selection of aircraft, seen up close and could even walk into/through some of them.

* the crash - the winds got ridiculous on Sunday, and sadly caused one of the pilots to tumble his sport-class plane as he was trying to land [after pulling out of the race for reasons we didn't catch]. His plane was a mess, with tail and engine gone, wings missing, but he escaped with bumps and bruises...the plane took the damage so he didn't have to. They scrubbed the remaining race of the day...a pity they didn't call it a day a bit sooner.

* Nate hanging out in the Valley of Speed - he didn't get access to the vendors, the porta-potties, or the loudspeakers for the play-by-play, but he got to stand pretty much directly under the planes as they zoomed around the back of the course. Crazy.

So there it was: my first Reno Air Race. Definitely cool, if time, I would get a room actually in Reno to save the hours of driving daily, and I would definitely check out the Valley of Speed; I would still get the pit pass for a day, for the awesomeness of seeing a lot of the planes up close. I didn't indulge in the vendor fun the way I would have liked...there were funnel cakes and teriyaki chicken that didn't get purchased [sadness], so that would have to be remedied. All in all, though, a good time with some good friends...not a bad weekend.

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