Forget Air Racing – say hello to Rocket Racing

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The Rocket Racing League launched its first ever rocket-powered racing plane this week in what it hopes will be the first of many high speed, highly combustible, aerobatic demonstrations.

The event is hopes to become the “NASCAR for the skies”, presumably because it wants all the glamour, spectacle and excitement of NASCAR, not because it wants a load of planes flying around in a big boring circle for hours on end.

These will even challenge the Red Bull Air Races to the title of ‘most impressive feats of lunacy performed at break-neck speeds, hundreds of feet above the earth’. Unlike Air Races, racing rocket-planes are designed to race each other at the same time. And as a by-product that means significantly more chance of aerial fireworks displays, which is sure to draw in the crowds, albeit to the detriment of the hapless pilots.

Each race is expected to last about 10-15 minutes with multiple laps and pit stops drawing out a whole event into about an hour and a half.

For the moment though, rocket racing is very much a fledgling, errr, sport. At the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the firm only managed to field air a single aircraft, as it is keen to try out different makes of rocket engine. The other plane that was due to perform, did not get Federal Aviation Administration approval.

God, red tape, huh? Typical bureaucrats always getting in the way of any attempt to propel adrenaline junkies at 560 kilometres per hour using nothing but a liquid oxygen and kerosene powered engine strapped to a hang glider. Spoil sports.

The crowd attending the event apparently loved the display, although particular enjoyment was drawn from the fact that when the rocket shut down it sounded like a burp. Tee hee.

The next exhibition race will be held at the Reno National Championship Air Races from 10-14th September, in Nevada.

Rocket Racing League (via New Scientist, image courtesy of Flight International. Check out the videos too.)

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