Arizona among states to submit bid for National Air Races

Oct 26, 2023, 5:00 PM

In this handout image provided by Breitling SA, John Travolta poses with the Breitling Jet Team at ...

In this handout image provided by Breitling SA, John Travolta poses with the Breitling Jet Team at the National Championship Air Races September 19, 2015 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Alexander Babic for Breitling SA via Getty Images)

(Photo by Alexander Babic for Breitling SA via Getty Images)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Leaders of the National Championship Air Races held in Reno since 1964 plan visits later this year to six Western cities that have submitted bids to host the annual competition beginning in 2025 in California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado or Wyoming.

Organizers of the event announced early this year that the races held last month would be the last in Reno because of a variety of factors, including rising insurance costs and encroachment of housing around Reno-Stead Airport where the races have been held for more than a half-century.

Three of the cities that have submitted proposals to become the competition’s new home are in states neighboring Nevada — Wendover, Utah, on the Nevada line along Interstate 80; Thermal, California, southeast of Palm Springs; and Buckeye, Arizona, on the western edge of Phoenix.

The others are Roswell, New Mexico; Pueblo, Colorado; and Casper, Wyoming.

Fred Telling, CEO and chairman of the board for the Reno Air Racing Association, said elected officials and tourism executives from all six cities attended the races that were cut short on Sept. 17 when two planes collided in mid-air, killing both pilots.

Telling told the officials to return home to determine whether their communities wanted to reconsider given the tragedy.

“No one backed out,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal last week.

Telling said organizers didn’t want to leave Reno but were left no choice when the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority voted to terminate their contract.

“Seeing the interest to host the National Championship Air Races at each of these unique venues gives me great hope for the future of air racing,” he said in a statement.

A selection committee has been established to consider the requirements to host the event, including availability of open land for the racecourses, suitable runways, ramp and hangar space, administrative and security facilities, as well as proximity to hotels, commercial airports and restaurants, the association said.

“We only want to go through this process once and because of that, we’re going to make sure our next location is the best fit for the future of the air races,” said Terry Matter, board member and chairman of the selection committee.

A final decision is expected to be announced early next year as the organization prepares for a final air show in Reno in 2024 before moving to the new location in 2025.

Over just the past 10 years, the event attracted more than 1 million visitors to the Reno area and generated more than $750 million for the economy, the association said.

Event organizers had been considering moving to a new home since insurance costs starting rising after the 2011 event when a plane had a mechanical failure and crashed into the apron in front of the grandstand, killing the pilot and 10 spectators and seriously injuring another 70.

It was one of the deadliest air show disasters in U.S. history.

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Arizona among states to submit bid for National Air Races