Air Race News

Youngest-ever female member of U.S. Aerobatic Team to make her Reno debut in 2014


April. 22, 2014

Youngest-ever female member of U.S. Aerobatic Team to make her Reno debut in 2014

One of the world’s top female pilots will be gracing the northern Nevada skies for the first time as this year’s National Championship Air Races ‘race on’ Sept. 10-14. Melissa Pemberton, a world-renowned aerobat and the youngest-ever female member of the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team, will bring her Edge540 Aircraft and her exhilarating stunt routine to the Reno-Stead Airfield this September. Pemberton joins the F-22 Raptor Demonstration team as performers that have been announced for the event’s 51st year.

“The National Championship Air Races has a 50-year legacy of attracting the very top racers and entertainers from all over the world,” said Mike Major, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) board of directors. “Melissa is simply awe-inspiring and we couldn’t be more excited to have her perform at this year’s event. We’re also confident that she’ll appeal to a younger and more diverse audience.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., the 30-year-old aerobat comes from a family of pilots and performers, having learned to fly from her grandmother and grandfather. Pemberton became a private pilot in 2002 and flew in her first airshow in 2004. She quickly established herself as one of the country’s best young pilots, winning several regional aerobatic competitions and earning the title of Collegiate Aerobatic Champion in 2004 and 2006 and Third Place Overall in Intermediate at the 2004 U.S. National Championships. She was a member of the “Stars of Tomorrow 2005,” sponsored by legendary aerobatic pilots Sean Tucker and Michael Goulian, doing solo and formation aerobatic demonstrations at major airshows throughout the country. Pemberton also studied aeronautical science and mathematics at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and is a champion rock climber.

RARA also announced, last week, an exciting new competition for its loyal fanbase that will culminate in the first-ever, Official National Championship Air Race Calendar. Each week, through mid-July, fans will be invited to post photos to the RARA Facebook page as part of its popular Photo Friday postings. One photo will be selected each week and announced the following Wednesday for inclusion in the 2015 calendar. The calendar will be sold online and at the event with all proceeds directly benefitting the not-for-profit event.

“We are committed to evolving this world-class event to create a more robust and enhanced experience for our fans and participants,” said Major. “We are also working to further engage our fans in feeling like this is their event and will introduce more ways, like the calendar, for them to express their passion for air racing.”

The 51st annual National Championship Air Races is the world’s premier air racing event. The races kick off Wednesday, Sept. 10, and will continue through Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Reno-Stead Airport. Tickets for the show are available by phone at 775-972-6663 or online at For more information on the National Championship Air Races, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

April. 2, 2014

F-22 Raptor to make return appearance at 51st National Championship Air Races

A sign of its steadfast commitment to bringing the very best aviators, performers and demonstration teams to the historic National Championship Air Races, the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) announced the awesome and ultra-high-tech F-22 Raptor as one of the event headliners in 2014. Just a year after having its performance cancelled for the historic 50th event due to the federal government sequestration, the wildly popular F-22 Raptor will be making just its third Reno Air Race appearance when it performs Sept. 10 – 14 at the Reno-Stead Airfield.

“Truly, the F-22 Raptor is one of the most impressive fighter planes in the world and its speed, turning capability and creativity make for a heart-pounding and exciting performance,” said Mike Major, chairman of the RARA board of directors. “Words will never do the F-22 justice; the only way to fully grasp what this plane can do is to see it in action.”

The F-22 Raptor employs a state-of-the-art thrust system that allows the aircraft to pivot 360 degrees in all directions at nearly any speed, seemingly defying the fundamental principles and forces that govern flight. The Raptor, which can do everything from making bank turns to hovering sideways in mid-air, is an unheralded combination of stealth and shear power and it represents RARA’s determination to substantially increase the military presence at the annual event.

“While the last remaining air racing event of its kind in the world, the National Championship Air Races is also an annual homage to the United States military and the all of the brave men and women who have taken to the skies in service of their country,” said Major. “Last year, while it was a worthy celebration of our first 50 years, the presence of the military was sorely missed. We are working diligently to ensure that, this year, the equipment and personnel of the Armed Forces are represented the way our fans have become accustomed to.”

March. 25, 2014

An open letter to our fans, our volunteers, our pilots and our community

To our fans, our pilots, our volunteers and our community,

After such an amazing 50th event this past September, we couldn’t be more excited to look ahead towards the next 50 years of the National Championship Air Races. Last year was an overwhelming and poignant success with fans from all over the world joining us to revel in this historic aviation celebration. As the last air racing event of its kind, the Reno Air Racing Association is committed to preserving and growing this great event and developing the next generation of Air Race fans.

Undoubtedly, the last few years have created many emotional, financial and organizational challenges. With the support of our fans, our pilots, our volunteers and our community, we have met those challenges and are now positioned to succeed far into the future.

As many of you know, over the last few months, we have revamped our organizational structure and revised our bylaws to allow us to operate more effectively, more efficiently and more prudently. Furthermore, buoyed by the support of our sponsors and our staff and, having recently secured the required insurance at a significantly lower cost than the previous two years, we are financially positioned for a prosperous 2014 and beyond.

However, in order for the National Championship Air Races to achieve its greatest potential and to captivate mainstream attention, we are looking to our entire Air Race family to help us spread the word. This year, we’re excited to announce that, in the same vein of our recent changes, we will engage on a communications and marketing campaign that encourages and even requires interaction from fans and participants all over the world.

We have many new and exciting changes and additions for this year’s event and we will be announcing them frequently through traditional media and our digital and social media channels. It’s time that this event became a true festival of flight. With that in mind, this year, we will be adding concerts, expanding the number of races, increasing the incredible display of military aircraft and creating some exciting, innovating and interactive experiences for our fans.

Again, all of these details and schedules will be released regularly over the coming weeks and months. We are pleased to make our first announcement and that is that our reigning Unlimited Breitling Gold Champion, Steve Hinton, will be returning to defend his crown in the famed P-51 Mustang Voodoo. Undoubtedly, as it did last year, this will set up for some very interesting and intense racing.

The National Championship Air Races is unlike any event in the world and, truly, the emotions and passion associated with this event simply cannot be described. This year, we’re inviting you to rally with us as we ‘RACE ON’ into the future of air racing. Tickets are on sale now for this year’s National Championship Air Races, Sept. 10-14. For the latest updates and information, visit our website at, make sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you and stay tuned for our first announcement on our performers for 2014 next week.

The Reno Air Racing Association Board of Directors

December. 31, 2013

2014 Race Tickets On Sale March 5th

On March 5th tickets will go on sale for the 2014 National Championship Ar Races!
You can purchase tickets through our website or by calling our office. If you are interested in Box Seats, please call us at 775-972-6663.
We look forward to welcoming our fans in September to "The World's Fastest Motorsport."

July. 19, 2013

John Agather joins the RARA Board of Directors

John Agather joins the RARA board of Directors

Accomplished San Antonio businessman joins
Reno Air Racing Association Board of Directors

Reno, Nev. – Earlier this week, the Reno Air Racing Association announced its newest board member, businessman and investor John Agather from San Antonio, Tex. Agather, the chief executive officer of A.I.C., brings more than 20 years of experience working in and around the aviation field. This announcement comes as the National Championship Air Races is gearing up for its historic 50th annual event, which gets underway in less than two months starting Wednesday, Sept. 11.

“We are so proud to have John Agather join our team at the National Championship Air Races,” said Mike Houghton, president and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. “He brings with him a tremendous wealth of experience and relationships that will help ensure this event continues to remain successful and that the races will continue long past our landmark 50th year.”

In addition to his role with A.I.C., a San Antonio investment firm that has participated in a number of projects in various industries including aerospace, oil drilling operations, real estate acquisition, and most recently, restaurant development and management, Agather is an active member of the Free Trade Alliance of San Antonio and a former member of the Texas Lutheran University Board of Regents and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, he is a multi-engine, instrument rated pilot and a nearly 40-year member of the Commemorative Air Force.

“I couldn’t be more excited to formally join this storied and historic organization, especially as it prepares to celebrate such a landmark year,” said Agather. “The National Championship Air Races are the premier tribute to aviation and, as someone who has had a lifelong passion for flight, I am ready to do everything I can to help ensure a long and successful future for air racing in Nevada.”
This year’s event, includes six classes of some of the most experienced and talented racers flying in the “World’s Fastest Motorsport,” and, attendees can expect thrilling entertainment including the L-39 Patriots Jet Team, the Breitling “Jetman,” and a bevy of individual air performances from some of today’s most talented aerial stunt pilots.
The 50th annual National Championship Air Races is the world’s premier air racing event. The races take place this year from Sept. 11 through Sept. 15. Tickets are on sale now by phone at (775) 972-6663 or online at