Reno Air Races add unusual twist for Friday flyover, honoring medical staff and others

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The Reno Air Races will hold a flyover on Friday with an added twist: aerial smoke hearts over local hospitals.

The Stihl National Championship Air Races and Lightning Formation Airshows will conduct the flyover for Reno and Sparks starting at 1 p.m. Friday, to honor first responders, medical staff, essential workers and military.

The aerial smoke hearts over hospitals are expected to begin around 1:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Lightning Formation Airshows is conducting 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 in the Reno Air Races.

“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,” Fred Telling, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association, said in a news release. “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 visible as it flies 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 who are 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 said.

The 2020 Stihl National Championship Air Races are scheduled for Sept. 16–20.

Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here

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