3 Tulsa Jet Pilots Prepare To Compete In Reno Air Races

Monday, September 10th 2012, 6:17 pm

The qualifying rounds of the Reno Air Races started Monday, and Tulsa is well-represented.

Ours is the only city with three pilots competing in the fastest aircraft, the jets.

You might have seen the military jets flying in formation over Tulsa a few days ago.

They were getting ready for one of the fastest obstacle course races in the world.

It would be unusual for any airport to have an eastern European military jet on the field, but to have two or three—that's really something.

Tulsa pilot Scott Krause flies one; a Polish TS-11.

Pilots Bob Pezold and Cliff Magee fly the others two, which are both Czech L-39s.

"It's like NASCAR at 50 feet off the ground. You're flying in traffic around telephone poles, a seven-mile course, anywhere from 450 to almost 500 miles an hour," Magee said.

9/20/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Airplane Mechanic Returns From Fatal Reno Air Races

The circuit takes just a few minutes, but it takes years of training to reach their level of competition.

Not that there's much opportunity to practice. Reno is the only place in the United States for pylon racing.

"There is no other feeling in the world like going around the pylons at Reno," Krause said.

Krause is going back to Reno for the second time this year.

He let a reporter ride along for a morning of practice flights, but without any of the maneuvers he'll use during the race.

The three pilots from Tulsa will face a dozen competitors in the jet class.

They'll fly heats during the week, and each hopes to fly in the finals, Sunday.

"For Scott and I, things look good. Scott's got to get his engine tuned, but once he does, he'll probably be ahead of both of us," Pezold said.

All three of the Tulsa pilots have been there before, but Magee has the most history: Almost 20 years of competition in a variety of aircraft.

"Everybody is within just a few seconds, even though you're 450 to 500 miles an hour, it's just a few seconds of separation," Magee said.

Krause said he enjoys flying low and fast, and competing with (and against) two good friends.

For him, that's the bottom line: "To trust each other out there and try to go as fast as you can go and stay safe."

We'll track their progress through the week, but you can follow along and see the results on the Air Race website.


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