Sport Class Racer Crash at Reno Races


Blue Eyed Murder in a Size 46L Uniform
Reports from the races say that the Sport Class racer GP-5 crashed this afternoon, killing the pilot. Name hasn't been released by RARA so I'm not posting it here, but a simple Google search tells you who the owner/pilot is.

I wasn't out there today, but my brother who is reported that the airplane broke up in flight out near pylon 6. Pieces could be seen coming off the airplane, and it went in to the ground at high speed.

The pilot/owner was a highly experienced, highly respected individual who was a key player in the Sport Class of air racing, and whose loss will be significant.

The GP-5 was one of my favorite racers -- an interesting design that looked very slick and sounded awesome at any power setting.

EDIT: First press report:


Repeat Offender
This years races aren't giving me a warm fuzzy feeling, I feel like I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop for the last several weeks.


Blue Eyed Murder in a Size 46L Uniform
Updated Statement from the National Championship Air Races

Reno, Nev. – At approximately 3:30 p.m. today, Sport Class pilot Lee Behel, 64, from San Jose, Calif. was involved in a fatal accident during a qualifying heat of the National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport. Behel was flying a GP-5, “Sweet Dreams.” This was single-plane incident and no other pilots or spectators were injured.

In addition to being one of the founders of the Sport Class and its current president, Behel was a retired Air Force fighter pilot and a loving father. Behel was a former Sport Class champion and longtime Air Race pilot.

“Lee was a very talented pilot but, more importantly, an enthusiastic and compassionate friend and the entire Air Race family will miss him deeply,” said Mike Major, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association. “This is a difficult day for all of us and our thoughts and prayers are with Lee’s family and friends.”

At this time, the Reno Air Racing Association will not speculate on the cause of the accident, which is currently under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB). As is standard procedure, we will evaluate all race planes prior to returning to the race course.

Qualifying for the 51st annual National Championship Air Races will resume, as scheduled, at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and the event officially opens to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 10. A tribute for Behel is currently being planned and will take place later this week. More details will be provided as they become available. Please visit for more information.


hen teaser
Local guy, I never had met him but had heard about him from others who always spoke very highly of him. Damn shame. I read he was the 19th pilot killed in all the years of the air races, I though the number was much higher the way people talk about the races.

The local news did a very respectful piece on Lee tonight, the reporter had met the pilot before and spoke kindly of him. RIP.