The Air Races have been fortunate to garner support and fandom from countless people over the years, and we are grateful for all the ways that love has been shown. But every now and then something extra special comes along that needs to be appreciated a little bit more.

Zach Boyd is as loyal air racing fan who has been attending the event since he was 3. He’s been “dazzled at the sights and sounds of the planes battling overhead” and he hopes and prays “that the races will find a new venue once again…so that the future generations will get to experience the same energy and raw power that I have come to crave every September.”

As a way to help show the connection he has felt to this magical event, Zach shared with us a truly amazing poem that he wrote. We’d like to share this incredible piece of writing with you as well and hope you find the same joy and emotion that we took from it.

On behalf of our team and our fans – thank you, Zach!

Mists of Stead:

I walk out onto the dew-soaked tarmac,
With drops of water sticking to my back.
Warm desert winds gently roll across the land,
Like a soft breath across the Nevada sand.

Cold air clashes with the heat from the hills,
Only now at dawn will you feel its chill.
Drops on the brush will soon return to the air,
And the sun will rise in a brilliant glare.

Soon the soil will crack and dry,
As the ground heat rises into the sky.
This is a holy place for a different breed.
Over in the distance, is the Valley of Speed.

I look up at the mighty tower,
Its doors locked, lights without power.
I see the empty stands and seats,
Free from the stomping of cheering feet.

The runway is quiet today,
A mere whisper of when planes come to play.
It still smells of smoke and fires,
And shows the black streaks from rubber tires.

This is where legends stand,
In the quiet skies above desert sand.
This is where they clash and turn,
Where props howl and jets burn.

Where they risk it all for the chance to win.
Like Voodoo’s famous purple, green, and yellow skin,
Strega with her polished red and white,
The twin props of Metal’s Griffon might,

Miss A’s stripes of red, white, and blue,
And Rare Bear’s unmistakable hues,
The powerful Dreadnaught at number eight—
All proudly carry on the names of the greats.

The most remembered being old number four,
Faster than any who had come before.
Forever in the lead is that flash of Red,
Over the small desert field of Stead.

And forever, I’ll see in the sky,
A streak of silver speeding by.
One who never returned to land,
But the stories she told were most grand.

She left this world as a pillar of flame,
But still on the course, her spirit remains.
Number 177 marks her side,
A Galloping Ghost’s forever ride.

It has always been my greatest fear,
That one day all this will disappear.
That the mighty steeds might never come,
That they’ll be denied their chance to run.

The air will lose the smell of smoke,
And be consumed by the desert’s greedy cloak.
The fight remains, keep the pylons high,
Continue to race, is the fiercely proud cry.

For eleven months it’s a calm blue sky,
For one week, we see the streaks flash by.
As soon as the words are heard over the base,
The timeless saying of, “You have a Race.”

The plane in the lead roars down the chute,
The others trail in, all following suit.
Blink and you’ll miss them speed around,
The valley echoes with an unforgettable sound.

The mighty engine’s powerful roar,
Just fifty feet off the desert floor.
The pilot’s straining to remember the cost,
Knowing in an instant, all could be lost.

Speeding across the Nevada waste,
All striving to win that prized first place.
Battling as crowds watch on in wonder,
Listening to the mighty sound of September Thunder.

But for now, the skies are clear,
The quiet wind is all I hear.
With the occasional Cessna’s gentle hum,
To hint at what it will become.

For now, the great steeds are sleeping,
Tired wings stored for safekeeping.
Letting their engines sit and go cold,
Until it’s their time to race for gold.

As I walk past the chain link fence,
My sorrow and longing to dispense.
Above the chirping of the quiet birds,
A faint echo can still be heard.

I hear the announcer’s excited cry,
As the crowd’s cheers lift to the sky.
Seconds later they’re suddenly dimmed,
By a chorus of pistons over the wind.

I turn and focus my pointed gaze,
The shapes appear through the morning haze.
Chrome skinned frames in the bright sunshine,
A group of 51s and Furies idling on the line.

I could name every plane in this set,
One of the greatest sights my eyes ever met.
But as the light chases away the shade,
The spinning props slowly fade.

Even though I see nothing now,
I can still hear it somehow.
The roar of engines overhead,
As I walk through the mists of Stead.

The sky is a sea of red and yellow light,
Knowing that when the time is right.
It will again hear the rumble of a plane on the roll,
And be graced by the sound of the dawn patrol.

By Zachary Boyd