New Zealand has not seen the last of round-the-pylons jet
racing, says John ''Johnny Rocket'' Kokshoorn.
He is the only New Zealander to have competed at Reno, Nevada
- the home of what is described as the fastest form of
motor-racing in the world.
He and five other pilots raced head-to-head in jets at the
Wanaka Warbirds International Airshow over the weekend.
''If they want us back, we'll be back.
''And we'll be back bigger and better than ever.
''This is just step one,'' he told the Otago Daily
Born in Christchurch and resident in Australia, Kokshoorn is
in the process of building a house near Wanaka Airport,
complete with hangar, and plans to bring to New Zealand his
Aero L-29, Rolls Royce Viper-powered, jet-racing aircraft.
While the average speed during the three races at Wanaka was
635kmh, his Viper is capable of an average lap speed of
865kmh - probably unrealistic for the tight 11km Wanaka
Kokshoorn said the Viper was even too fast to be raced at
Reno, where a speed limit of 828kmh for jet-racers had been
set by the Reno Air Race Association.
Kokshoorn regards the speed limit as ''very frustrating''.
The issue is how much empty ''scatter radius'' there is
around the aerial race course for pieces of aircraft to land
in the event of a mid-air collision.
Kokshoorn assured the ODT the prospect of being part
of that flying debris was far from his mind as he settled
into the cockpit of his jet before each race.
''You put all that stuff to one side of your mind and just
focus on the stuff you need to do when you are racing.
''As soon as I close the canopy I'm in my world.''
A one-time water skier at Sea World who left New Zealand 22
years ago, Kokshoorn funds his jet-racing ''addiction'' with
his industrial and commercial building business in
The pilot first went to ''pylon school'' in Reno in 2009 and
initially was not sure he would be capable of the sort of
flying required for jet-racing.
Racing at over 800kmh was a ''completely different kettle of
fish'', he said.
''Those pylons are really coming at you.''
Kokshoorn has holidayed in Wanaka for many years and it was
partly through that connection jet-racing has become part of
the Warbirds show.
''It's a long way from Reno, but we'll bring [jet-racing]
The three-race series between ''Team New Zealand'' and ''Team
Reno'' was won by New Zealand, which had use of the three