ANN's Firsthand Coverage of the Reno Air Races
Although not every race starts in the air (Bipes and Formula 1
use standing starts), every race has a 'pace' plane. The 'big'
machines -- T-6, Sport, Jet, and Unlimited -- use a flying start,
where the pace plane is absolutely for real.
The Unlimited Silver pace was set this year by 10,000 hour 737
driver Chris Rounds, in the T-33, Red Knight. Rounds (who
has been a pilot since 1977, and also flies a lot of warbirds, is a
flight instructor, and offers T-6 check rides) got the famous jet
trainer just this June. If the name sounds familiar, it's maybe
because Red Knight paced the races in 1992 and 1993, as
So fast, yet too late?
Chris, who isn't flying the airlines any more, got into Red
Knight too late to get himself booked into a lot airshows this
year. "We plan on 20 to 25 next year, though. I'm getting ready,"
he told me.
Chris's shop, Rounds Aviation (McMinnville, TN 1-800-279-8015)
specializes in restorations and avionics; he works on T-6s, -34s,
and the occasional T-33. Between the airplane work and the flight
instructing, he keeps pretty busy.
In Saturday's Silver heat race, Chris 'earned his money.' Not
far into the race, Miss America, which last year lost it
engine and was quite badly wrecked in the ensuing forced landing,
declared a Mayday. As the crippled P-51 (below) headed away from
the racers, Chris flew cover, spotting from above, and doing what
he could to help visually check Brent Hisey's machine. The Air Boss
said, clearly but without equivocation, "Brent, put it on one-four,
NOW." Chris kept his 'eye in the sky' open. Not overly dramatic,
but certainly not routine, either. [Miss America, contrary
to my prediction, was just fine on Sunday, and won the Silver, at
Chris has never raced at Reno, but his appearance there was made
possible by Bob Cannon (Cannon Insurance), and a gang of helpers,
who keep that beautiful old jet in top form.
Chris plans on having a website soon. In the meantime, if you'd
like to sponsor Red Knight; or if ou need help on your
warbird, or with an avionics upgrade -- or if you're looking for an
exciting jet airshow, you can use Chris's email.