Delmar Benjamin and the Gee Bee vs. the FAA!

"Tower, this is Ghostrider requesting a flyby . . .
(Tower) Permission denied, the pattern is full.
(Goose) Don't DO THIS Mav!
(Maverick) YEEEEHAAAAAA!!!!!!"

- recurring scene in the movie Top Gun

Delmar Benjamin brought his remarkable replica of the Gee Bee R-2 racer back to Reno for the fourth consecutive year since its completion. When he took to the racecourse to start his aerobatic show on Thursday, the photographers out on the course knew they were in for some fun!

Delmar has developed a reputation for providing the photographers with spectacular but hair-raising shots of the Gee Bee racer flying directly at the pylon where they are standing - at breathtakingly low altitudes - I mean ON THE DECK! It is often a photographer's dilemma (dramatically enhanced when viewing thru a telephoto lens) whether to shoot one more unbelievable frame or drop & hug mother earth for dear life!

Good news travels fast, however, and at Reno, you can be sure at least one official with not enough to do will stick his nose into any given piece of action. So it was that when racing resumed on Saturday after a bad weather blackout on Friday, an ominous black car sat positioned out on pylon #8 where all the Gee Bee action had been happening. Inside, in a black hat sat the FAA guy and a major RARA official.

Delmar gave the self-appointed gendarme plenty of ammo with which to shoot himself in the foot, tho! Informed sources report that after three unbelievable low passes at the pylon, the FAA official phoned the tower and demanded that the show be stopped immediately and all aircraft be grounded until the course was cleared of all personnel. Surprisingly, temporary radio failure apparently prevented this urgent message from ever being transmitted.

Delmar finished his show and the remaining heat races were run without incident until the FAA guy had an "interview" with Delmar in which he uh, "criticized" his "low and dangerous flying", adding a little 120 day suspension of his license. This was later withdrawn when Delmar pointed out that not only did he have "zero-altitude" waivers for his airshow, but the ONLY person out on the course who had NOT signed liability waivers was the FAA guy himself! This meant that he was on the course illegally to begin with, endangering the sport and the livelyhoods of the professional photographers and reporters he was so charged up to "protect". Is this any way to run an airline?

Click here to see more pics of Delmar Benjamin and the Gee Bee R-2

Back to Air Racing home page
page design & sponsor:
Helix Interactive Productions
all photos on this page copyright © 1996 H.I.P.
ver. 0.96 - this page under construction!