Over 75 injured in Reno air race crash

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9/16/2011 6:35 PM

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Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton.

9/16/2011 6:47 PM

Wow, it's amazing people other than the pilot weren't killed on the impact. Sounds like some will likely die though.

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9/16/2011 6:48 PM

Wow...What a bummer.
It always worries me at those things...

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Go for it! Don't let a little thing like fear, or common sense hold you back.

9/16/2011 7:00 PM

I was sitting on the porch most of the day watching the Thunderbird's and a few of the races. There was no explosion so I didn't notice anything till it came on the news about 10 minutes later..

This is horrible, 23 in serious condition and 3 dead. The races have been canceled.

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9/16/2011 7:37 PM

The pilot was 80.

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9/16/2011 7:42 PM

Bob693 wrote:

The pilot was 80.

Really? Makes you wonder....

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9/16/2011 8:04 PM

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_AIR_SHOW_CRASH?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-09-16-21-13-11

Official: Plane problems may have caused NV crash
By SCOTT SONNER and MARTIN GRIFFITH
Associated Press

Photo
AP Photo

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- An official says there are indications that mechanical problems caused a World War II-era fighter plane to plunge into the grandstands at a Nevada air show, killing at least three people.

Mike Houghton, president and CEO of Reno Air Races, made the remarks at a news conference hours after the crash in Reno that sent at least 54 people to the hospital.

Killed in the crash was the pilot, 74-year-old movie stunt pilot Jimmy Leeward, and at least two others.

Houghton says it's too early to know for sure what caused the wreck, but said there appeared to be a "problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A vintage World War II-era fighter plane plunged into the grandstands Friday during a popular annual air show, killing at least three people, injuring more than 50 spectators and creating a horrific scene strewn with body parts and smoking debris.

The plane, flown by a renowned 74-year-old air racer and movie stunt pilot, spiraled suddenly out of control and appeared to disintegrate upon impact. Bloodied bodies were spread across the area as people tended to the victims and ambulances rushed to the scene.

Maureen Higgins of Alabama, who has been coming to the show for 16 years, said the pilot was on his third lap when he lost control.

She was sitting about 30 yards away from the crash and watched in horror as the man in front of her started bleeding after a piece of debris hit him in the head.

"I saw body parts and gore like you wouldn't believe it. I'm talking an arm, a leg," Higgins said "The alive people were missing body parts. I am not kidding you. It was gore. Unbelievable gore."

Among the dead was pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala, Fla., a veteran airman and stunt pilot who named his P-51 Mustang fighter plane the "Galloping Ghost," according to Mike Houghton, president and CEO of Reno Air Races. Officials earlier said Leeward was 80.

Renown Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Kathy Carter confirmed that two others died, but did not provide their identities.

Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, told The Associated Press that emergency crews took a total of 56 injury victims to three hospitals. She said they also observed a number of people being transported by private vehicle, which they are not including in their count.

Kruse said of the total 56, at the time of transport, 15 were considered in critical condition, 13 were serious condition with potentially life-threatening injuries and 28 were non-serious or non-life threatening.

"This is a very large incident, probably one of the largest this community has seen in decades," Kruse told The Associated Press. "The community is pulling together to try to deal with the scope of it. The hospitals have certainly geared up and staffed up to deal with it."

The P-51 Mustang crashed into a box-seat area in front of the grandstand at about 4:30 p.m., race spokesman Mike Draper said. Houghton said Leeward appeared to have "lost control of the aircraft," though details on why that happened weren't immediately known.

KRNV-TV weatherman Jeff Martinez, who was just outside the air race grounds at the time, said the plane veered to the right and then "it just augered straight into the ground."

"You saw pieces and parts going everywhere," he said. "Everyone is in disbelief."

Tanya Breining, off Hayward, Calif., told KTVU-TV in San Francisco: "It was absolute carnage. ... It looked like more than a bomb exploded."

Another witness, Ronald Sargis, said he was sitting in the box seat area near the finish line.

"We could see the plane coming around the far turn - it was in trouble," Sargis told KCRA-TV in Sacramento. "About six or seven boxes down from us, it impacted into the front row."

He said the pilot appeared to do all he could to avoid crashing into the crowd. Response teams immediately went to work, Sargis said. After the crash Sargis went up a few rows into the grandstand to view the downed plane.

"It appeared to be just pulverized," he said.

Leeward, the owner of the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team, was a well-known racing pilot. His website says he has flown more than 120 races and served as a stunt pilot for numerous movies, including "Amelia" and "Cloud Dancer."

In an interview with the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner last year, he described how he has flown 250 types of planes and has a particular fondness for the P-51, which came into the war relatively late and was used as a long-range bomber escort over Europe. Among the famous pilots of the hot new fighter was WWII double ace Chuck Yeager.

"They're more fun. More speed, more challenge. Speed, speed and more speed," Leeward said.

Houghton described Leeward as "a good friend. Everybody knows him. It's a tight knit family. He's been here for a long, long time," Houghton said.

The National Championship Air Races draws thousands of people to Reno every year in September to watch various military and civilian planes race. They also have attracted scrutiny in the past over safety concerns, including four pilots killed in 2007 and 2008. It was such a concern that local school officials once considered whether they should not allow student field trips at the event.

The competition is like a car race in the sky, with planes flying wingtip-to-wingtip as low as 50 feet off the sagebrush at speeds sometimes surpassing 500 mph. Pilots follow an oval path around pylons, with distances and speeds depending on the class of aircraft.

The FAA and air race organizers spend months preparing for air races as they develop a plan involving pilot qualification, training and testing along with a layout for the course. The FAA inspects pilots' practice runs and brief pilots on the route maneuvers and emergency procedures.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., issued a statement saying he was "deeply saddened" about the crash.

"My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives and with those who were wounded in this horrific tragedy," he said. "I am so grateful to our first responders for their swift action and will continue to monitor this situation as it develops."

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9/16/2011 8:05 PM

Several audio clips on the actual AP page from the above article if you click on the link.

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9/16/2011 11:23 PM

Bob693 wrote:

The pilot was 80.

Void Main wrote:

Really? Makes you wonder....

Is this normal for a 74 year old to be competing in an event like this ? I mean - would you ever see a 74 year old racing in the Indy 500 ?

Does anyone remember the Hurricane's close call at this race several years ago ?

http://aafo.com/racing/news/98/day6.htm

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RIP Danny "Magoo" Chandler 1959-2010

9/17/2011 6:52 AM

Old guys (the article I read called him an Ocala, Florida real estate developer) are often the only ones with the historic interest and the money to be racing P-51's.

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9/17/2011 7:10 AM

Amateur video

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9/17/2011 8:30 AM

This is a truly tragic event at one of the great and historic racing events in our country. All the pilots have been cleared to race by the FAA and go through plenty of pre-race contingency briefing.

When a racer has a mechanical issue, usually an engine, the pilot will gain as much altitude as possible then set up to land at one of the designated areas at the airport.

Already there is talk of discontinuing the event, I truly hope this doesn't happen.

Praying for all those involved.

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9/17/2011 8:40 AM

88sdad wrote:

I was sitting on the porch most of the day watching the Thunderbird's and a few of the races. There was no explosion so I ...more

Are the air races out by Stead Mx??

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9/17/2011 8:47 AM

North of town at the old Reno-Stead Airfield.

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9/17/2011 4:06 PM

88sdad wrote:

I was sitting on the porch most of the day watching the Thunderbird's and a few of the races. There was no explosion so I ...more

GoldenState54 wrote:

Are the air races out by Stead Mx??

Yes, the course flies right over the track.

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9/17/2011 5:41 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2011 5:47 PM

Edit: too soon.
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9/17/2011 6:04 PM

Trim tab's gone...

[LINK TO IMAGE]

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Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton.

9/17/2011 6:11 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2011 6:13 PM

Hurricane Hannah had a similar incident:

http://aafo.com/racing/news/98/day6.htm

Hannah lost his trim tab and it caused the plane to jolt hard enough that it knocked him out. That plane could certainly be controlled without a trim tab but I think at the time it broke loose it caused the plane to jolt up or down and knocked Jimmy out just as it did when it happened to Bob. It looked like the plane just made a slow roll over the top and into the ground with no apparent change in course. I think Jimmy was unconscious.

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9/17/2011 6:38 PM

jonjon714 wrote:

Trim tab's gone...

[LINK TO IMAGE]

That same exact shit happened to Buckwheat and it damn near killed him, too. Luckily he woke up and put the bird down and lived to tell the tale.

http://www.warbird.com/voodoo.html

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"The public sucks. Fuck hope." ~ George Carlin

9/17/2011 6:39 PM

Void Main wrote:

Hurricane Hannah had a similar incident:

http://aafo.com/racing/news/98/day6.htm

Hannah lost his trim tab and it caused the ...more

Ooops, just saw your post Void, sorry for the repost.

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"The public sucks. Fuck hope." ~ George Carlin

9/17/2011 7:05 PM

Here's the audio from Hannah's incident:

http://biglenny.gets-it.net/i/mayday.mp3

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9/17/2011 9:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2011 9:59 PM

high res
[LINK TO IMAGE]

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in a past life, I was myself

when opportunity knocked, it waited because I was busy

I gave my father a talking to

9/18/2011 9:54 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/18/2011 9:56 AM

I read about the Hannah incident the other night. My question is do they even need trim tabs to fly these planes in races? Do planes like an Edge 540 or an MX have trim tabs?

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Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton.

9/18/2011 10:46 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/18/2011 10:58 AM

jonjon714 wrote:

I read about the Hannah incident the other night. My question is do they even need trim tabs to fly these planes in races? Do ...more

How else would you adjust the surfaces to neutral flight (without computer/hydraulic assist that is)? Even with computer/hydraulic assist aircraft usually have trim tabs if they have elevators. Now, F-16s and F-4s don't have elevator trim tabs because they don't have elevators. They have stabilators (the horizontal stabilizer and elevator are combined into a single movable surface), so no trim tab is needed on those. The trim is adjusted by the computer setting the stabilator position to a setting that is correct for neutral flight. Here's an edge 540 where you can see the elevator trim tab close to the rudder:

[LINK TO IMAGE]

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9/18/2011 1:25 PM

Yeah...I started looking around and got the education....

Good picture of an MXS here.

[LINK TO IMAGE]

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Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton.

9/18/2011 4:41 PM

jonjon714 wrote:

I read about the Hannah incident the other night. My question is do they even need trim tabs to fly these planes in races? Do ...more

Void nailed it, but simply put, there's enough going on in the cockpit of one of those things. You certainly don't need to worry with trim.

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Go for it! Don't let a little thing like fear, or common sense hold you back.

9/18/2011 5:23 PM

jonjon714 wrote:

I read about the Hannah incident the other night. My question is do they even need trim tabs to fly these planes in races? Do ...more

SEEMEFIRST wrote:

Void nailed it, but simply put, there's enough going on in the cockpit of one of those things. You certainly don't need to ...more

You do have to trim those airplanes, trim is constant with airspeed, accelerating level flight requires a substantial amount of forward pressure increasing with speed. With the wide airspeed range that these airplanes operate in it would be uncontrollable if the takeoff or constant setting were maintained from takeoff to race speed then back onto the ground.

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9/18/2011 6:37 PM

jonjon714 wrote:

I read about the Hannah incident the other night. My question is do they even need trim tabs to fly these planes in races? Do ...more

SEEMEFIRST wrote:

Void nailed it, but simply put, there's enough going on in the cockpit of one of those things. You certainly don't need to ...more

zjbell wrote:

You do have to trim those airplanes, trim is constant with airspeed, accelerating level flight requires a substantial amount ...more

I should have let you handle it in the first place.

I over simplified it. My point was trying to be tabs are essential. I was under the imperssion though that these planes were capable of trimming themselves.

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Go for it! Don't let a little thing like fear, or common sense hold you back.

9/18/2011 6:49 PM

No not at all, some of the larger more complex airliners and jets are capable of 'trimming' themselves but older and light aircraft require at least some level of pilot interaction.

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9/18/2011 7:00 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/18/2011 7:03 PM

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"The public sucks. Fuck hope." ~ George Carlin