Reno Air Races celebrates 50 years

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Reno Air Races celebrates 50 years

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A Pitts S-1S biplane at the Reno National Championship Air Races

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the 50th annual Reno National Championship Air Races, which got off the ground Wednesday.

You just heard a batch of biplanes racing on opening day. The event draws pilots and flying enthusiasts from across the globe, making an economic impact of $85 million a year.

Roland Jones is here for the second time from Wasilla, Alaska. He points to a plane called Precious Metal to explain why he keeps coming back.

"That's probably one of the most unique P-51s I've ever seen. It is absolutely flawless. So yeah, there's a mystique about it; this is the fiftieth year. To a pilot, this is chocolate cake."

Like Jones, about 70% of attendees will come from out-of-town to commemorate the event's 50th anniversary and to see special attractions like JETMAN.

"He is a self-contained jet. He has a suit, and he leaps from a helicopter and flies around in his suit. It's very exciting to see this man racing at speeds planes reach."

That's Jennifer Crowe, a board member for the Reno Air Racing Association. She says that other events in the country only have timed racing with single planes on a track, but actually having groups of planes racing each other head-to-head is unique to Reno.