The steady drone of engines cut the stillness at the Carson City Airport on Friday morning as the Trojan Fliers, a group of about 25 pilots and their vintage T-28s, took to the skies.
The pilots and their families have come from all over the western United States for this event, which includes training, camaraderie and fun and Carson City gets its own air show. The planes will be practicing formation locally, until the party breaks up Sunday.
David Corrao, a Reno resident and member of the group, said no conventional or domestic plane comes close to matching the performance of the T-28.
Top speed for this 1,425-horsepower engine stands at about 340 miles per hour.
"It has speed, stability and handles well," he said. "It's a fun aircraft."
Built in the 1950s, the T-28 was used for combat as well as training in both the Navy and Air Force. The planes were originally used as a trainer for the F-86 and saw action in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The government sold them to U.S. citizens in the 1970s, Corrao said.
He estimates the cost for one of these planes at anywhere from $300,000 to $1.2 million, depending on the amount of restoration.
Corrao said his inspiration to become a pilot came during a tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
"I was pounding the ground in Vietnam," he said with an easy smile. "Then I looked up and saw the airplanes. It seemed like a better way to go."
The planes may prove to be the most dramatic on the tarmac this weekend, but local fixed-base operators will be busy with traffic headed for the Reno Air Races. Employees at El Aero Services said there are at least 60 extra airplanes on the field and most of their owners will be spectators at the Races.
"Historically, the planes have never filled up our tie-downs, but we're going to be close today," El Aero spokesman John Kelly said. "Pilots don't have to go through tower here, so they can come and go more quickly."
Jim Wickersham, owner of Shadetree Aviation, said the influx has been good for business. He has about 30 tie-downs, but rents them by the month and doesn't charge those who need a spot, for a day or two.
"They show up all the time and we just ignore them, as long as they don't interfere with business," he said.
Wickersham sells aircraft and engines.