Skip to comments.Reno Race Accident Investigation Continues
Posted on 09/19/2011 7:18:13 AM PDT by PilotDave
The NTSB has recovered 'components' which may be part of the P-51's horizontal stab and elevator... possibly even the elevator trim tab, which is a specified point of inquiry (as noted in previous ANN reports).
The NTSB has received a significant amount of photographic and video evidence -- some of which show the process whereby the elevator trim tab separated from the horizontal stabilizer.
There is no evidence of the much-reported 'Mayday' call.
We are hearing a number of calls for additional regulation and FAA supervision... despite the fact that this is the first time in nearly 60 years that a spectator at an American aviation event has been killed. A quick perusal of a number of road racing events shows dozens of people/spectators killed as a result of their attendance at such exciting activities (and just in the last few years!)... there are spectator tragedies on record, as well, involving boat races, motorcycle races, BICYCLE races, sled races, ski races, horse races, you name it.
(Excerpt) Read more at aero-news.net ...
In 1962 I had an employer who flew P51 in war, he bought one and was testing it - down it went. After all was said and done, many war flyers said -”It is a great plane unless it loses power or control then it drops - does not glide.” I don’t know much about this accident, but those words kept ringing in my head as I thought of a great guy lost in a P51.
Definitely something hanging loose on the P-51's left elevator assembly.
Just don’t let ancient equipment fly at shows, that should solve the issue. And I do mean the plane, not the pilot.
That is the best photo I’ve seen showing the plane just prior to impact. There are some photo shopped one floating around.
It resembles a P-51 but it is NOT a P-51.
Kind of like a Volkswagen.
It’s fun to drive when it’s running.
It is a P-51, but not in original condition.
The 65-year-old “Galloping Ghost” underwent years of massive overhauls that took a full 10 feet off its wingspan. The ailerons the back edges of the main wings used to control balance were cut from about 60 inches to 32.
Pilot Jimmy Leeward had said the changes made the P-51 Mustang faster and more maneuverable, but in the months before Friday’s crash even he wasn’t certain exactly how it would perform.
Define ancient? Who decides? These planes get millions spent on them to modify them and inspect every square inch. In the world of motorsports when you are pushing thing hard, stuff breaks sometimes. The only true answer for 100% safety is to chain all airplanes to the ground and put little bits of foam on all the sharp edges.
A good friend was an acrobatic pilot and flew a lot of WWII birds - I flew with him in an SNJ and we did fun aerobatics in it.
But these old birds are so old that they are well known for being accidents waiting to happen in spite of perfect maintenance.
My friend went in in a P-38 (Jeff Ethyll - Google him - great prolific aviation author) which his dad flew all through WWII, and both his parents and wife saw the fire from the crash over the trees. Tragic.
But the investigation said the cause was his unfamiliarity with the weird quirks of the plane even though he was certified to fly it.
No question in my mind the Reno accident was mechanical failure, not pilot error.....an old old bird souped up with lotsa hours on it. Undetectable metal fatigue is almost eventually inevitable with these planes.....
Also, didn't a B-17 crash recently which was also said to be due to structual failure?
I think you will find that many of these planes are maintained to some very exact specifications. Do just a little bit of homework.
I know that...it’s heavily modified for racing.
It is a P-51 but has been modified with some cooling features, etc for racing, thus no undercarriage intake. It also has a slimmed canopy as well as shorter wings.
It is a P-51, sort of. It started life as a P-51 (P-51D-NA-15, if I remember what I read correctly) but was modified as a racer on several occasions. The last set of modifications was almost a complete rebuild, clipping the wings drastically, removing the existing cooling system for water and oil and adding one in that didn’t require drag-inducing belly radiators, and a bunch of other changes. I’m sure the engine was heavily modified as well...a stock Merlin of that vintage was “only” good for about 1500 horsepower and Unlimited race planes run more than that.
Double-engined P-38s were very quirky, very fast, and very unforgiving, and there were a lot of accidents during World War II in and around Los Angeles, where AAC/AAF pilots were trained.
No, it was a small gas leak that ignited. The plane landed safely in a field and everyone was evacuated safely. Due to the field being so wet the fire department declined to drive thru it and so the plane burned resulting in far more damage than was necessary.
Fly the old rattletraps all you want, just not at shows where there are a bunch of innocent onlookers.
So much for the B-52 then...
Innocent, ya they were there for a scrapbook convention.
I have a few hours in a P-51, what a machine in the air..takes some time to get used to it on the ground... From the picture one wonders how that could have caused the accident but the words of a fellow aviator while I was on active duty sitting on an accident board ring true as the board President (Full Colonel) was grilling this poor Captain....too which the Captain replied: Colonel you just had to be there and flying the airplane to understand what happened. I suspect that will be the case here.
Makes sense, Pilot Dave.
There are many ways to detect metal fatigue. X=ray, eddy current, visual, ect. This Accident probably had NOTHING to do with metal fatigue. Most likely aerodynamic flutter caused the tail to fail. They may be looking at any mods to the tail or maintenance issues. If I was the mech who did the elevator install I’d be pretty nervous.
The B-17 had an in flight fire. The crew did a great job putting in down in a field saving all on board. Plane burned.
Either mechanical failure or maintenance negligence. That part is held on by only 2 bolts with castellated nuts and cotter pins. If not installed properly, the nuts will fall off. If not inspected for wear, the bolt can be totally worn out, and only the very small cotter pin is holding the nut on.
These are balanced parts and flutter is a concern on this type of installation. Crossing the wake turbulence as this plane did just before the event may or may not have been the initiating factor. The structure the tab is attached to is not robust, and flutter would quickly destroy the pivot mounts.
The loss of the tab may have caused pitch control forces to go extremely light leading to over control, and an accelerated stall situation.
Lots of possibilities, the wealth of photo and video documentation will go a long way toward figuring this out.
Your implication is that they weren’t a bunch of innocent onlookers?
You are wrong. People attend airshows and bring little kids to see airplanes do neat stuff. Same innocence level as a scrapbook convention or maybe more innocent.
I know all about the ancient planes in graveyards and the “millions” spent to refurbish them and put them back into service.
Ever heard of metal fatigue?
get real bud
Wow, I wish I lived on your world where everything worked perfectly. Love the Monday morning quarterbacking.
I toured the FAA Aging Aircraft Facility once, knowing the guy who was in charge at the time. It’s amazing all the places weakness can hide out in a plane, simply undetectable due to location etc...
That said, I think they just went too far modifying this bird, and although they got speed and maneuverability, it was in an unforgiving package. I’m reminded of the Granville brothers R-1 from the 30’s.
You didn’t answer my question.
And I was commenting on what could be done as prevention.
Yeah, Monday morning quarterbacking is also known as problem solving.
Glad you are glad. And no, my world is a total disaster, just like everybody else’s.
Although tragic, this was one accident at one event.
How many spectators have been killed at stock car races when a car, tire, etc gets sent up into the stands during a crash?
Motor sports are dangerous for participants as well as spectators. Then again every day life has potential hazards as well...
“Where’s the pilot?”
That’s one of the images that doesn’t look right to me. Photshopped?
It had almost nothing to do with the age of the plane. Though we love them, they were high strung death traps when they were brand new. We lost more pilots to accidents than to enemy action. The accidents were design issues being worked out, 20 year olds, weather,,, you name it. At Baylor university in Texas, the campus is covered in lampposts. Each one has a plaque of a student who died in the service. 85% seem to be flight cadets,, killed in training, in Texas. Its jaw dropping to realize the carnage.
Limit old planes at airshows.
Stock car racing yeah, that’s dangerous too but as you say, a tree could fall on you.
Still, at a stock car race a projectile is not falling out of the sky
I've set track-side at Daytona and Indy both. My technical background lays it out very simply: Force equals mass times velocity squared. Work the math - no catch fence in the world is going to stop a 3500 pound car at 200 miles an hour if it hits the fence at the right angle. Yet if money and business didn't interfere, I'd be at Daytona, Indy, and Reno every year.
Life has risks. If you don't want to play, stay in bed with the covers over your head (and pray for no earthquakes).I'm in charge of my actions, and I'll manage my own risks.
Is this a shot just prior to impact? If so, it is very odd that the tailwheel is down (shouldn’t have been enough time) and that the pilot is not visible.
I recall a very bad crash at a car race back in the late '60s or early '70s that killed many; my recollection is that the number of fatalities exceeded 70. It was a long time ago, and I am not able to find the specific incident by Googling it.
I remember seeing a picture of it on the cover of Life magazine.
well, the stockcar starts out on the ground.
I don’t think you read the article yldstrk. These are the first spectator fatalities at an airshow in the US in almost 60 years! There have been more spectators killed at bike and horse and ski races than at airshows. And Airshows draw millions and millions of spectators per year. Statistically, airshows are just about the safest place you can be.
If it were up to you then I guess nobody would ever see a ww 2 airplane fly again...
oh AND I can’t think
I highly doubt a stock car weighs 3500 pounds unless they have taken to racing SUVs......lol
“well, the stockcar starts out on the ground.”
And where did the airplane start from?
yep yep I read it Pilot Dave. And your defense of flying old rattletraps around crowds of people is typical of you being a pilot. You have the Alexander Haig syndrome “I am in control”
They can see the old planes close up and personal on the ground and even get to go inside.
Cool ones too like the Blackbird
“I highly doubt a stock car weighs 3500 pounds unless they have taken to racing SUVs......lol”
Ah, as I suspected, you know nothing more about auto racing than you do about air racing.
A Nascar Cup car has to weigh 3400 pounds without the driver. I guess if Danica shows up next year and only weighs 90 pounds, than maybe there will be one below 3500 pounds.
but that is beside the point Pilot Dave and you know it. When the plane fails it is in the air. Smart pilots crash themselves into places where noone gets hurt, not into a crowd of Moms and Dads and kids.
I grabbed it from the Seattle Times.
really. do you have a cite for that?
Knock me down with a feather