Sunday, September 18, 2011

WHAT caused the P-51 to crash at the Reno Air Race?

WHAT caused the P-51 to crash at the Reno Air Race? Here is an assessment by this pilot, based on a fascinating new photo that shows something nothing else has so far. (I have had a commercial pilot's license since I was 18 and have flown on search and rescue missions with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary aka Civil Air Patrol in the past).

A photo released today of the plane a split second before impact shows the cockpit from the side. There should be a pilot's head visible at that angle. It should have been all you could see inside the cockpit. There wasn't. The cockpit glass was totally clear.

The pilot must have had a medical condition and was passed out. He would have to be slumped over the stick to be out of sight in that photo.

The trim tab on a plane is not a vital part. It only helps with stick pressure. Even without it, the pilot should have been visible in that final photo...It appears he was incapacitated.

It's possible he could have had a heart attack or blacked out doing a high speed turn...however, these planes are heavily modified - they chopped ten feet of the wings of the P-51, so an investigation will still need to be done. Why did the trim tab come off anyway?

Unfortunately, there is no body of the pilot left to autopsy, the only way you could verify if he had a medical condition that caused the accident.

At another air show this weekend, two pilots clipped and another pilot was killed. No spectators were injured. Perhaps it is time to look into the "Wild West of Airshows" and devise same safety standards. Right now, at least 9 people are dead in Reno as a result of a fatal mistake by someone...

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