Gary Dean Hubler, Formula 1 Champion

Gary D. Hubler
Gary D. Hubler Gary D. Hubler, 52 of Caldwell, died of injuries received in an air racing accident at the Reno Air Races on Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. A celebration of Gary's life will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Idaho Center in Nampa, Idaho. Private interment will be at Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell. Services are under the direction of Dakan Funeral Chapel, Caldwell. Gary was born June 14, 1955 at Caldwell the son of William and Betty Hubler. He graduated from Vallivue High School where he met his future wife, Debra Jean. He learned to fly at the age of 17 and, after a brief career as a mechanic, became an aerial applicator, flying his first application job at the age of 21. He and Debra Jean were married on his 18th birthday and they had three wonderful children, Eric, Jon and then, after Debra Jean learned to fly, Becci. Gary worked for Clark's Air Service in Nampa until he and his father started Valley Air Service in 1980. He had been a partner with his father in the company since that time. His love of flying was the inspiration for him to become and instructor so that he could share his love and talent with others. Gary began air racing at the Reno Air Races in 1984. From 1984 to 1989 he flew Formula One planes in races for other people. In 1990 he built what would become the fastest Formula One plane in the world, "Mariah", which he raced to five consecutive national championships since 2002. Gary was a member of Quiet Birdmen, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the War Birds, and the National Air Transportation Assoc. along with other organizations and associations. Gary also flew in T-6 and unlimited classes at the Reno Air Races and other races around the country. Gary held too many ratings to mention from gliders to DC 3's, having flown more than 200 different planes. If it was to be flown, he flew it. Gary's career was flying but his life was his family. He was a devoted husband, son, father and grandfather. He adored his four granddaughters. Gary is survived by his wife, Debra Jean; his parents, William and Betty Hubler; his children and their families, Eric and Genevieve Hubler and their children, Allison and Piper and Becci and Alex Wade and their children, Giselle and Evangeline; his brothers, Bob and Nelda Hubler, Terry and Sheila Hubler and Bruce and Becky Hubler and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a son, Jon and a brother, Dan. Memorial contributions may be made to the War Hawk Air Museum, 201 Municipal Dr., Nampa, ID 83687. Memories and condolences may be shared at
Published in the Idaho Statesman on 9/19/2007.

Caldwell champion racing pilot dies in Reno air crash

Gary Hubler had the 3rd fatal crash in 4 days at National Championship Air Races

RENO, Nev. Gary Hubler, a longtime Caldwell crop-duster and a champion racing pilot, died when his plane collided with another Friday at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

It was the third fatal crash in four days of racing at the Reno air show.

Hubler, 51, died when his Formula One race plane "Mariah" collided with a plane piloted by Jason Somes of Simi Valley, Calif., during an eight-place race.

Somes was able to land his damaged aircraft; he was hospitalized with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

Hubler was one of four Treasure Valley pilots competing in the Reno air races, which were halted for the day. Racing resumes today and Sunday.

Don Waters, an Idaho Statesman circulation department manager, is crew chief for the team of Boise pilot Brian Reberry racing in Reno this week. Waters knew Hubler well and had dinner with him Wednesday evening.

Winds were strong Friday morning, but once the race was under way nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary, Waters said.

A split-second thing'

"Gary was up above. The other plane came screaming through," Water said. "They were banking left, and Jason Somes' plane, Alley Cat, came up behind. His right wing clipped Gary's left wing. It was a split-second thing."

Eyewitnesses reported seeing pieces fall from both planes before Hubler's plane dove into the ground, flipped over and landed upside down.

Waters estimated that the planes were traveling at 200 miles an hour, about 50 feet off the ground.

"At 50 feet, if you crash, you're through," he said.

After witnessing the crash, Waters walked to where Hubler's wife and crew were gathered.

"Friends and family were around, trying to get through it," Waters said.

Two judges on the ground were hit by debris and suffered minor injuries. Students on a field trip from seven elementary schools were among those watching when the crash occurred. School officials said counselors were being made available to talk to children.

Top of his class

Hubler was a five-time defending national race champion. Competing in the Forumla One class, Hubler was flying a Cassutt III M single-seat plane, which is designed for pylon racing and aerial acrobatics. Hubler competed in the top class, reserved for the best pilots and the fastest planes.

Hubler started competing in the Reno races in 1984, and in Thursday's first heat reached a top speed of 259 mph, according to the air races' Web site.

The races are like a car race in the sky, following an oval path over the airport runway and around pylon markers at various distances.

Hubler was competitive, said friend and fellow pilot Holbrook Maslen.

"He's won the last five races," Maslen said. "I know this would have been one more."

Maslen had planned to compete in the same race in which Hubler died. But late Thursday he decided his plane wasn't in racing shape and dropped out of the race the first time he's missed the event in 14 years.

After hearing about the crash, Maslen called his wife and his crew chief.

"You just get on the phone. It's a close group of people. A big concentration of racers are from here. Probably the most professional was Gary. He was an excellent pilot," Maslen said.

"All of us are torn up about it," said Caldwell Industrial Airport Manager Curt Hawkins, his voice cracking with emotion.

Flying, a way of life

Being a professional crop-duster all his adult life gave Hubler the low-flying skills needed for racing. And flying and crop-dusting run in Hubler's family

Hubler's father, William, started the crop-dusting Valley Air Service at Hubler Field near Middleton in 1961.

"My family's done this for about as long as I can remember," Hubler told the Statesman in 1998. "I can't really see myself doing anything else. Crop-dusting is what I do."

Hubler's son, Jon Hubler, died in 1996 at the age of 16 in a small plane crash near Caldwell.

Gary Hubler's brother and best friend also died in flying accidents.

Hubler's is the third fatality of the week at the Reno air show. A bi-plane pilot died in a test flight on Tuesday evening. Thursday, a jet hit another plane's wake turbulence and crashed, killing the pilot.

Friday's crash was the 18th fatality in the 44-year history of the air races, and the first race week since 1993 with more than one fatal crash.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428 Anna Webb: 377-6431

Associated Press reporter Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.


Mariah Flown by Gary Hubler was the Five Time Defending Formula 1 Champion

Gary had flown Mariah to 5 consecutive First Place Finishes in the Gold

in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006.

Mariah broke the course record with a 257.047 MPH time in 2006.


Mariah Stats and History: 


This highly modified Cassutt 111M was completed in September 1972 by James Hoover of Salt Lake City, Utah and Eldon Lutz of Boise, Idaho who had pilot Glenn Tuttle fly it for them at Reno '72... its first racing appearance.

It placed 8th in the Consolation Race at 191.280, and returned to Reno the following year where Hoover flew it to a 7th place Consolation finish at 194.730.

During the next three years, in eight race meets, the plane's best finish was a 6th in the Championship Race at Reno in '76 at 215.41, its best speed to date.

In 1979 Mike Vandenberg of Boise acquired the plane with intent to race it, but he severely damaged it in a landing accident in March 1980 and sold the remains to Lee Cock and  Gary Hubler of Caldwell, Idaho.

Parts from this plane were supplemented with parts from a former racing Cassutt, #72.  Over the next ten years,  the new owners  built new and larger tail surfaces and canopy, modified the fuselage, and added a new composite wing to build the highly modified #95, MARIAH.

The new plane first raced at Reno in 1990 where Gary Hubler placed 8th in the Gold Race at 211.825, and followed with a 217.593 2nd place finish in the Silver Race the next year.

In subsequent races through 2002 ongoing modifications have resulted in ever increasing performance for this hybrid culminating in its second best ever speed and finish in placing 2nd in the Gold Race at 250.059 at Lancaster, California in '96, and its best ever speed of 258.522 in the Qualifying Lap in Reno in 2002.  The speed of 258.522 makes Mariah the fastest Active Formula 1 Race Plane in the World, second only to the Retired Nemesis.

One of Mariah's' most interesting records is a 1st place finish in the Silver Race at Reno in '96 at 239. 557. Interestingly that speed was faster than the speed of the Gold Race winner at that same race meet.

Continuing modifications and improvements to the plane's engine resulted in Back To Back To Back Gold Championships in 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Formula 1 Racing History and Guidelines:

Formula 1 Class air racing was introduced at the Cleveland Air Races in 1947. The Formula 1 class must conform to the following guidelines: All Aircraft:

1 - must weight at least 500 pounds

2 - must have non-retractable landing gear

3 - must have a minimum wing area of 66 square feet

4 must use a fixed-pitch propeller constructed of either wood or composite materials

5 must have a 100 HP 200 cubic-inch Continental engine.


The 2006 Field

Numbers 1 Thru 14

Numbers 17 Thru 40

Numbers 44 Thru 69

Numbers 77 Thru 96



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