Golden Age Racers - Reno-Stead Airport 2003

(ABOVE) The Mew Gull in 'the pits' alongside Jimmy Leeward's P-51 Mustang 'Cloud Dancer' which finished second in the Unlimited Bronze Final.

To many, Reno is about three things; gaming tables, quickie marriages and even quicker divorces! To others, the mere mention of Reno sets the pulse racing, renders the most eloquent of speakers completely incoherent and makes neck hairs reach for the sky! To those enlightened few Reno means the fastest, most extreme and exciting motor racing event in the world - The National Air Races, now in its 40th year.

(ABOVE) Brian and the Mew waiting for the 'off'.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary, the organisers planned to assemble a handful of historic racing aircraft and launch them into a simulated race around Reno’s legendary pylons, recreating the sights and sounds reminiscent of the golden era of aviation.

Breighton’s Mew Gull was to be joined by a host of replica racers based in the USA, these included a DH 88 Comet ‘Grosvenor House’, the ‘Super Solution’ racer, Lawrence Brown’s ‘Miss Los Angeles’, Howard DGA-6 ‘Mr Mulligan’, the ‘Mystery Ship’ racer, one of the Gee Bee racers and the Laird Turner LTR-14 ‘Meteor’. For reasons still unknown, and much to our disappointment, only the LTR-14 turned up for the event, however, it was flown alongside Taff in the Mew by the eventual Unlimited Gold Champion, Skip Holm, both pilots entering into the spirit of the event, keeping it tight and turning spectacularly steep around the pylons.

(ABOVE LEFT) Taff checks out the cockpit whilst Brian winds up the elastic band! (RIGHT) 9-30am - time to get cracking. (BELOW, MIDDLE and BOTTOM) Start-up, run-up and walk out.

The Mew Gull performed faultlessly during the event and just to prove it Taff happily put in average course speeds of around 200mph, later commenting that it had hardly used a drop of oil during the entire event!

(ABOVE - CLOCKWISE) Starting-off, in the circuit and safely back down to earth. (BELOW LEFT) "When do we do it again?!" (BELOW RIGHT) Back to the pits.

The only modification made to the aircraft in the UK was the addition of an oil cooler, however, in the US it was decided to widen the tail skid to prevent it getting stuck in the expansion gaps on Reno-Stead’s taxiways and runway.

All-in-all we all agreed that the experience had been truely awesome. The Mew was received with cheers and waves from a wildly entusiastic crowd, especially from those crazy dudes in Section Three (ABOVE) who marked us 10 and 9 out of 10 - thanks guys (two of obviously mistook us for someone else!).

(ABOVE) The Laird Turner LTR-14 ‘Meteor’.

The supporting airshow was a bit of an eye opener too - gave us a few ideas for the Real Aeroplane Company’s 15th Anniversary bash next summer I can tell you - now then, where can I get me a Mustang?!


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