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National Championship Air Races move to New Mexico

The National Championship Air Races will move to Roswell, New Mexico, in 2025, the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) announced May 24.

Thousands of fans converged on Reno, Nevada, for the National Championship Air Races in 2023. The popular and long-running event will not be held this year, with the next races scheduled for 2025 in Roswell, New Mexico. Photo by Cayla McLeod Hunt.

The announcement caps off a lengthy search for a new home for the races and airshow after organizers announced in March 2023 that the Reno/Stead Airport in Nevada would host the final event in September 2023. That event marked RARA’s fifty-ninth year at the “Biggest Little City in the World.” Challenging economic conditions, rapid area development, and public safety were cited as reasons leading to the decision to leave Reno.

As at Reno, the Roswell racing event will host seven classes of racing, static displays, military demonstrations, and more, organizers said. The Roswell Air Center Airport, a decommissioned U.S. Air Force base, will stage the races.

With a pleasant climate and a population of about 48,422, the city of Roswell has styled itself as a retirement community but is also famous for a 1947 incident involving the crash of a U.S. Army Air Forces balloon that subsequently gave rise to a collection of stories and myths maintaining that the crash involved an extraterrestrial spacecraft. Roswell’s business community welcomes and encourages tourism surrounding unidentified flying objects, science fiction, and aliens and hosts an annual UFO Festival in July.

Roswell Air Center is the location of Hangar 84, the building where UFO enthusiasts believe the government kept alien spacecraft debris and the bodies of the alien spaceship inhabitants following the 1947 crash.

RARA received 38 inquiries from locations to host the races. Roswell won out over finalists Pueblo, Colorado, and Casper, Wyoming.

“To know that Roswell will be the future home of the National Championship Air Races is a privilege and honor,” said Mike Espiritu, president and CEO of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation. “We are confident that we can help the event grow and expand for many years to come.”

Though there will be no races at Reno/Stead Airport in 2024, the Reno Air Show will be held October 4 through 6, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper demonstration team, and a slate of civilian acts.

Jill W. Tallman
Jill W. Tallman
AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.
Topics: Air Racing

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