Aviation

The Planes of the Pylons

There really isn’t anything that compares to the Air Races, it truly does stand out on its own. Besides the volume of aircraft that comes to the event, the access we media guys get is just great. Unlike most airshows where there is a rope that we always have to be behind at Stead we get to go right up to the planes. One of the most unique features, which truly makes the Air Races what they are is getting to go out to the Pylons where the planes fly around and shoot from the base up at them.

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As the day moves forward we rotate around the different pylons. There is an outer and inner course for the various planes types. The inner course is used by the biplanes, formula one, sport, T6 and part of the Super Sport. It’s very diffuclt to shoot, the planes go by and you follow with them. The challenging part is the steady panning needed to go with the planes as any prop plane needs a slower shutter speed in order to get a blur in the blades. The biplanes are by far my favorites that go around the inner course except for the T6’s. Sports are cool, no doubt but I tend to lean more towards the classic fighter look.

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There was one exception this time around, a new plane that none of us had seen before at the pylons. This is a Radial Rocket which has a great look to it. We all gravitated toward it looking like a P47 or even a Hawker Sea Fury. It definitely had that great fighter look to it. Unfortunately I didn’t get many good clicks of the plane. Hopefully it will be there at Reno this year for another crack at it.

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Then of course is the T6’s. The T6’s have been a favorite for some time. This year there were eight T6’s at PRS and 4 of them belonged to our good friend Denis Beuhn. Denis is quite a character and won the T6 gold last year. The silver T6 is the newest edition to his fleet fits his style perfectly. What with a red, blue, and yellow plane why not a silver one to balance out the mix. Even though the T6 Texan is a rather common warbird it is great that he keeps so many of them going.

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The one unlimited that grabbed the most attention was Rod Lewis’s F7F Tigercat. This is one massive fighter that is flying around the pylons with ease. The unlimiteds and jets are the two classes that most tend to enjoy the most myself included, because we get to be out at pylon 4 which is locally known as the ridge. It’s the one spot where we get to see the planes coming right down at us. It’s a really freakin cool experience seeing them come screaming down at you.

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The pylons end up being a long, tiring day of shooting with thousands of images to go through but all well worth it. Time to get back to processing.

Images captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 200-400 VRI, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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