STIHL National Championship Air Races and Lightning Formation Airshows Partner for Tribute to First Responders, Medical Staff, Essential Workers and Military

RENO, Nev. (May 13, 2020) –Reno and Sparks residents should turn their eyes skyward on Friday, May 15 for the Reno Hearts for Heroes flight, an aerial tribute to those who have given back to their community. The flyover is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m., weather permitting, and will feature aerial smoke hearts over local hospitals around 1:30 p.m.  

The Reno Air Racing Association, the governing body of the STIHL National Championship Air Races, has partnered with Lightning Formation Airshows for the flyover. The group is a professional airshow team comprised of eight pilots and planes flying in close formation. Many members of the team are also racers in the Sport Class and are set to compete this September.

“With so many events, get-togethers and summer plans being disrupted, we wanted to find a fun way for people to participate in a safe way while saying thank you to first responders, medical staff, essential workers and military members,” said Fred Telling, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. “One of our core missions is to honor military and with May being National Military Appreciation Month, we thought this was the perfect time.”

The flight will take approximately one hour and will feature aerial smoke making the group highly visible as they fly over select locations. The team will create hearts over Northern Nevada Medical Center around 1:30 p.m., and Downtown Reno to honor both Renown Health and St. Mary’s Medical Center around 1:45 p.m. The aircraft will be low enough to be easily photographed, while remaining compliant with FAA regulations.

Lightning Formation Airshows has performed similar flyovers across the west coast in recent weeks and is set to perform at this year’s STIHL National Championship Air Races.

“We are grateful for the ability to honor essential workers with aviation, especially our military, and health care personnel who are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19,” said Bob Mills, Lightning Formation Airshows Flight Lead, Reno Air Races Sport Class President, and Navy veteran. Mills, a Reno resident, has family and friends serving as physicians, nurses, and staff at all three local hospitals.

“We also share our compassion with those in our community with loved ones who are sick or have been tragically lost to this disease. These ‘Hearts for Heroes’ are for you, too,” Mills added.

The 2020 STIHL National Championship Air Races, set for Sept. 16–20, 2020, are just 20 minutes north of downtown Reno. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (775) 972-6663.


About the STIHL National Championship Air Races       
The STIHL National Championship Air Races are held every September just north of Reno by the Reno Air Racing Association, a 501(c)(3). The event has become an institution for Northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world with seven racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civilian flight demonstrations. Independent economic impact studies show that the event generates as much as $91.7 million annually for the local economy. For more information on the STIHL National Championship Air Races, to obtain media credentials, volunteer, be a vendor or purchase tickets visit