Skip to comments.Photos Suggest Pilot in Deadly Reno Air Crash Had Broken Seat, Aviation Expert Says
Posted on 09/20/2011 12:05:47 PM PDT by ColdOne
Newly released photographs of the deadly Nevada air racing disaster suggest the pilot in the crash may have become dislodged in the cockpit as a result of a broken seat, an aviation mechanic tells Fox News.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Interesting. Yesterday I read a comment here from a freeper that he thought something might have been wrong w/the seat. Wish I could remember who is was so I could ping him!
Wouldn’t be the first time a broken seat crashed an airplane.
Interesting. If the seat gave loose and the pilot went backward he would have likely taken the stick with him thus causing the plane to gain altitude quickly as is shown in the video, plus he would have had no rudder control which might account for the plane rolling over and then going in.
It was HTE, now pinged.
I’m not sure I’m the first to suggest it, but I was among those who did.
Hmm. If he fell back in the (broken) seat, maybe a sudden violent control input could explain the detached or broken elevator trim tab? Because that elevator tab is clearly coming off in one photo I’ve seen, and completely gone in another.
Someone posted yesterday from the pics that the tail wheel deployed.....and postulated that the seat came loose.
WOW! You remembered. Thanks.
Still waiting for a theory as to why the tail wheel is down.
OK! I didn’t comment on the thread so I couldn’t go back and see those who mentioned the seat. Freepers are the best!
Makes more sense than a broken elevator trim-tab, which serves only to adjust pitch forces on the stick. A broken seat would have thrown the pilot onto his back, with all controls out of reach.
My 2 cents. Sorry for the tragedy.
But I wish they would not use historical treasures for “stunts.”
That’s not what they were made for.
They were made for killing Germans.
Should we stick with that?
One theory is the failed trim tab caused the aircraft to pitch upward, resulting in Gs causing several things to happen - the tail wheel popping out, the pilot blacking out and the seat collapsing. The rest is an easy guess.
Honestly, the “expert” is just another guy like me making a conjecture by looking at the same photo.
Excellent theory Skeeter. Thank You.
I noticed that the pilot wasn’t visible in the cockpit before the plane crashed.
It all seems to make sense now, coming around a high g turn, seat lets loose, pilot goes back and loses control and its over two seconds. It could have been a LOT worse, the plane cold have easily gone right into the stands under those conditions.
I have been to the Reno air races 4 times and have always thought it was just a matter of time before a plane injured a spectator. However, as a spectator I was willing to take that risk as should everyone else that attends. Aircraft move in three dimension you just really can’t give full protection for the fans like you can at a car race.
It is realistically a very good guess. Just look at other photos of the aircraft from before the accident. There are many of him sitting on the tarmac waiting. His head and helmet sit right in the middle of the bubble and right up at the top of the canopy. You can’t miss it. And given that at these speeds and G-forces you have to wear at least a 5 point harness and be strapped down TIGHT there’s no many other conclusions you can come to.
Even if he was passed out and his head rolled to one side it doesn’t look like there is any way his head could normally end up out of view. He’d just have it resting on the plexiglass or hung forward.
I noticed it hours earlier in photos and mentioned it also. But others with actual experience noticed too.
>>They were made for killing Germans.
Should we stick with that?<<
They were made for shooting down enemy aircraft during WWII.
I wish they would have left the plane on the ground to be seen by Americans for the historical artifact it is.
But I don’t always get what I want, and that’s fine.
The pilot chose to use it as a plaything, and now neither one are around any more.
You’re welcome. Like you, HTE’s comment caught my attention. This is a tragic mystery. What really happened? Seems like FReepers are on the cutting edge of figuring it out.
Prayers for the family.
He shouldn’t of driving that plane at 74 yrs old...his reactions are slow...
It seems likely the loss of the trim tab was first. That caused the plane to pitch up violently. The resulting G forces caused the tail wheel to deploy and broke the seat and / or caused Leeward to black out. In either case, he would have been unable to fly the plane.
There was an incident in 1998 in which the P51 Voodoo lost an elevator trim tab:
Button describes what happened to his airplane in Saturday's heat race. Apparently, the left elevator trim tab came off the airplane at speed, causing the bird to abruptly pitch up, subjecting driver Hannah to over 10 G's of deceleration forces, and causing him to lose conciousness! When he came to, the raceplane had climbed to over 9,000 feet of altitude. A shaken Hannah regained control and brought Voodoo in for a safe landing. Suspected structural damage kept the sleek raceplane out of Sunday's championship competition.
Good Question. The plane is nosediving and the pilot is still laying back? I would venture his hands and arms would be seen trying to pull himself up (g force was on his side nose diving). Only two scenarios for not being seen in photo, in my opinion.
1. He passed out - medical reason after seat broke.
2. He was abducted during flight.
I pick number 1.
Looks like the dashboard to me.
Please, let us in on your facts for making such a claim.
From what I understand you have to be checked out medically before you fly.
Do you know how many times that plane changed hands from the time it was made? It was deemed surplus in 1946. It was sold. And sold again. And again. And modified. And and and. If you would like to see artifacts, there are tons of them in Tucson, AZ at the Air and Space Museum.
I downloaded the photo and used some recovery techniques and it definitely looks like it is his helmet. The photographer will have a raw file in which there is a tremendous amount of information and quality. This photo will help with the investigation.
Any idea as to what is the vapor/fuel/water injection... coming from underneath the fuselage (see inverted photo of the P-51, just below the 177 number)?
It was the National Air Races, not an aerobatics/stunt show
Is that a photo taken just before the accident? It is so clear and defined it almost looks like a stock photo.
The Smithsonian has one you can go see.
The news keeps bringing up the fact that the pilot was 74 years old. Big deal. So long as they can pass their FAA medical exam and are current in make and model of aircraft they fly then it makes no difference how old they are. Chuck Yeager flew an F-15D when he was 74. The chase plane for the flight was an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Bob Hoover, a famous air-show pilot, and his wingman for the first supersonic flight was 75.
Someone questioned it on yesterday's thread, based on reflections visible in the shiny spinner, the lack of pilot, and the deployed tail wheel. However, it was taken by (and presumably vouched for) by Tim O'Brien, for the Grass Valley Union.
Thats was Hang The Expense.
That is what I thought. They need to pass a medical to fly.
Thanks for your reply. Please understand I am not questioning the validity of the photo - I’m just amazed that such a clear photo was taken of a plane moving at around 500 MPH!
Well, if it wasn’t dislodged before, it surely is now.
The tailgear locks are right by the feet.They may have failed from the Gs pulled going verticle.The tailgear on a mustang is one stout,heavy assy.