Noted aviation racer Thom Richard will relate his experiences and discuss the history of air racing in the final Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing Living Aviation History Day program for 2017. The presentation will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Museum hangar, 1200 Echo Ct., Peachtree City, Ga., adjacent to Atlanta Regional Airport – Falcon Field. Admission is $10, with veterans and active military members admitted free. Click HERE for details.
Air racing has been an exciting spectacle since the early 1900s. Early challenges like the Schneider prize for seaplanes, launched in 1911, were meant to encourage progress in civil aviation but became contests primarily about speed. The Schneider trophy was a primary influence in increasing aircraft speeds from 150 mph at the end of the First World War to more than 400 mph in 1931. In the 1920s, air racing spurred aircraft development with major events such as the Cleveland Air Races, and proved to be a test of the nation’s strengths in aviation technology.
Richard, a citizen of the United States and Sweden, has flown several aircraft types in air races around the United States, including the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev. Richard will share his experiences in modifying, maintaining and flying various warbirds in the demanding air race circuit. He started Warbird Adventures, Inc. with a business partner in 1998, and the business grew to three T-6s and a small air museum (Kissimmee Air Museum) at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida. Richard now owns the operation and has about 15 airplanes, most airworthy, on display. Various other collections are available to the public, including some of his Air Racers.
‘I set my sights on Unlimited Air Racing when I was seven years old after reading a magazine article about the 1979 Reno Air Races,” Richard said. “I did not have the means or time to start racing until 2008. I managed to fly two Formula 1 racers in 2009 and won both the Gold and Silver that year, which apparently had never been done before in the National Championships.”
Richard moved to racing jets in 2010 until he had the opportunity to climb into an Unlimited racer, P-51 Precious Metal, In 2011. He teaches warbird and helicopter flying throughout the United States and England, and flies at numerous aerobatic shows in the P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang and F-4U Corsair. He won the 2015 World Cup (U.S., Africa and Europe) in air racing with Hot Stuff, the world’s only 3M1C1R. He has more than 11,500 flight hours in general aviation flying, of which nearly half is in warbirds.
For more information about Living Aviation History Days or the CAF Dixie Wing Warbird Museum, please go to www.dixiewing.org.