Back to Squawk list
  • 129

9 dead, dozens injured in horrific Reno air show crash

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A plane plunged into the stands Friday at an air race event in Reno in what an official described as a "mass casualty situation." It wasn't immediately known how many people were . . . ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

George Haksch 0
We pray for the victims families.
Marcus Pradel 0
Wayne Fox 0
My condolences to all the families involved/ Very sad indeed.
dbaker 0
[ Squawk with Video]
dbaker 0
All -- thank you for submitting this story. We received dozens of submissions and have consolidated the votes and comments into this story that contains the most comprehensive information. We are working on systems to reduce duplicate postings and help promote breaking stories to the home page sooner. Thank you for contributing to the community about this tragic story.
Troy Raiteri 0
My prayers go out to the affected families of those who were in this crash.
Matt Comerford 0
sucks so bad, those people killed and injured are aviation enthusiasts just like us. our people.
sumsum 0
Great job of saving so many people even at your last moments, Mr. Leeward, RIP.
James Scarff 0
What a tragedy. I traded a post earlier this week with a volunteer who was going to the air show. Carl, how are you doing?
Ian Greig 0
A sad day indeed and I agree with all the previously mentioned sentiments; but I wonder how long it will take for the uninformed members of the press and public to call for the entire annual event to be banned.
Matt Comerford 0
I agree Ian46, good question... I think the general populous knows any sort of motorized racing is dangerous and can be lethal, but still, in today's age of over reactions...... who knows. sucks. I drive hundreds of miles to see air shows, If I was closer to NV, I would've been there.
linbb 0
A very sad day for all of us who follow air racing or any motor sport at all. He was a pilot who did what he could to the very end and prevented what he could. May he rest in peace, his job on this earth done. I am taking a moment of quite reflection about this.
Mark Lansdell 0
What more can be said. Neither men nor machines are flawless. It appears he, Jimmy did all he could to spare lives and injuries. We lost a great pilot and a good airplane. God bless you Jimmy. God keep you and bless your family. The airman's verse 3 of "Eternal Father" and the poem "High Flight" always come to mind at times like this.
Robert Carver 0
This was a tragic accident but fatal incidents occur everyday across our country. I am an avid fan of air shows and I understand when I attend one with my friends and family that there is always the risk of an accident. This is true of just about any public event because humans are involved and we make mistakes. I have read comments on various websites stating that Reno should ban these air races because of this fatal accident coupled with previous deadly crashes. I feel this is an overreaction which normally occurs after such tragic events but as long as the officials and participants in such aerial shows and races have adhered to the required rules and safety requirements there is no rational reason to enact a ban. The NTSB and other officials are investigating this incident and will find out what went wrong. They will correct what they can learning from this accident and resume this event. As others have pointed out we should acknowledge the heroic effort of veteran pilot Jimmy Leeward who fought his plane until the end to avoid hitting the grandstand area which was filled with fans. They will hold a memorial for him today and he will be missed by the flying community.
jim garrity 0
I'm really sorry for all that were injured and killed. UPDATE,now they report 9 have died! I wonder if Jimmy might of had a heart attack or stroke? The way the video showed the plane going down,looked like there was no control? May God watch over all of us and keep us safe,as with the other air show accident today,RIP.
Danish Nelson 0
It is such a terrible thing, SO many people perish because of what the love to do, fly.
James Scarff 0
Those who love flying know the great feeling of confronting the inherent dangers of flight with skill, commitment, and enthusiasm. Many other people can only see the dangers, and they're the ones most likely to call for a ban on the race. Let them stay on their couches and leave us alone.
fred groff 0
Might cost a little money,but mandatory for all hi-speed pylon racers to have ejection capacity.It would add wgt but to all that run it would be the same,therefore no advantge only safety for our pilot and aircraft.
very,very sad.
mark mooar 0
A sad day for aviation.Prayers and condolences to all concerned.
Lisa Vines 0
Praying for a speedy recovery for those injured and for peace and healing for the families of those killed. My hat's off to you Mr. Leeward for doing your best to save as many as you could during your last minutes. You were a kind man and a great pilot! You will be missed at Leeward Air Ranch as well as in the aviation community in general!
Chris Mock 0
I have been there and can tell you after witnessing Gary Levitz crash that you won't catch me wathcing the races any further towards the stands than the western edge of the pits/display area. How about spectators/pits/etc. on the "infield"? RIP Jimmy, a really great guy!
Ruger9X19 0
This link contains some of the sharpest photos I've seen of the accident in slide two the elevator trim tab is clearly missing, and the pilot's helmet is down and forward in the cockpit (most likely from the high G load of the event much like what happened to the P-51 Voodoo in the 1998 season when the trim tab on that aircraft failed). However what I'm most wondering about is in slide 3 and 4 the tail wheel is extended. Could this be caused by high G loads, or would it more likely happen from lowering the landing gear lever being placed in the down position, and the mains not extending do to aerodynamic loads,or could the rigging have been routed incorrectly causing a failure in both the elevator and tail wheel? Just wondering what anybody's thoughts are on the pictures and the accident sequence.;cbsPostCarousel
Victor Engel 0
@Matt, I was thinking the same thing. I'll bet the rear wheel and rear flight control pieces missing are symptoms of the same problem. On a vehicle that old, I'll bet it was metal fatigue. Who knows what part, though.
David Brooks 0
A still photo taken by someone at the airshow shows a part on the tail assembly, right side, dangling off the at an odd angle. Speculation has it identified as a trim tab. Anyway, this failure could have caused lose of control. The P-51 was heavily modified for racing and done would have to wonder how much stress analysis was performed versus just taking it out and seeing what it will do. A real tragedy for all killed and hurt. Very sad.
Very sad incident. I have many fond memories of going to Reno Races. I have a bad feeling looking at the pics that he might have overstressed the airplane after turning wide and trying to regain his track. The elevator trim tab is gone, which would have caused an instantaneous unloading of g's - at that speed - it could easily take out the pilot going from +5g to any negative g. There's also no deflection at all of any airfoils in the pics I've seen, again, possible evidence that the pilot was out.
John Townes 0
I was 200 feet from the point of impact, but did not see it as I was underneath the grandstand. I saw the aftermath a few seconds later and was amazed at the lack of recognizable wreckage. I have witnessed 3 crashes in the past and there was always recognizable wreckage. Not this time. The lack of a fireball was also surprising but was proably due the fact that when racing they carry minimum fuel. I am leaning towards the opinion that Jim was not the airplane. The last second photos do not show his head although the highly modified cockpit cover is very small. The tailwheel situation is odd and the lack of a trim tab would surely not cause this much lack of control. Also in my opinion the engine was running at full or near full throttle. One day we may find out the truth. As to changes to the course in the future, if there is one, nothing can be done to make things safer for the public in this kind of situation. Just a final comment, a few years ago a fellow member of our Reno aviation club said to me "one day there is going to be a terrible accident out there at Stead". This was the year. Let's hope this is not the last Reno Air Races.
John Townes 0
In my last comment I meant to say that I think that Jim was not in control of the airplane.
Victor Engel 0
@tribal fusion, why would you copy/paste my post like that?
Iskra 0
I watched what happened from turn 8 through a set of high power binoculars and was on that airplane with the binoculars (177 galloping ghost) throughout the maneuver. I have received many photos and also was shown some high speed still photos. I think the airplane had a trim tab failure. Possibly brought on by flutter caused by passing Rare Bear. The tab fluttered, failed and reduced the trim input to the elevator. Causing a out of trim pitch out. The airplane changed direction within 150 yards from horizontal to vertical (up) at 450+MPH. My rough estimates shows this would equal a +20G load on the aircraft. Causing the tail-wheel mechanics to fail allowing the tail-wheel to deploy. This load also possibly causing the pilot to be pinned to the floor or incapacitated by the G. The fact that the airplane was at what appeared to be full power helps to support this theory. This is only a theory. I am not an accident investigator , only a long time pilot/test pilot/ mechanic.
Victor Engel 0
@Iskra Maybe I'm not understanding your scenario. How could losing a trim tab result in such a sharp turn? I would think that just the opposite would occur.
bluehawk15 0
The higher the speed, the more nose down trim needed. Lose a trim tab that is helping keep the nose down and the plane will shoot upward, causing a high G situation, which could rip the tailwheel out of the uplocks and cause the pilot to G-LOC (black out). There is a lot of good discussion on the Warbird Information Exchange, for those who may like to visit that site.
James Scarff 0
Victor, tribal fusion seems to think that cutting and pasting other peoples' posts is amusing. This definitely is not the story to get your jollies on.
Mark Lansdell 0
According to all the articles I've read about this tragic incident, if the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, were to have ejected many, many more people would have died as the plane would have hit the grand stand seating section. Instead of 9 dead and I think it's up to 10 now, there may have been over 100 who perished. I really think this is a case of informed people who paid their money and took their chances. I would hate to see some judge or committee somewhere take those choices away.
Victor Engel 0
Really? That's the first I've heard that. I thought the pilot likely passed out from the excessive Gs so wouldn't have been able to eject if he'd wanted to. Wasn't the plane completely out of control from the moment it shot skyward?
Mark Lansdell 0
@Ian Fischer:
Your comments show why there is an investigation by NTSB. The evidence is not all in. All opinions are exactly that, conjecture. Collect ALL the evidence before you decide what the story is
Iskra 0

It's not worth even responding to your point of view. But when you use the words opinion and conjecture, you should look in the mirror..

I will respond to one point you try to make only because many other uninformed make a similar statement. What is old? What does old mean? How do you define old? This applies to both plane and pilot.

I know many more dead pilots below the age of 50 then I know above... Most general aviation aircraft are Pre 1975 and much of the airline/cargo fleet is older then 1980.
Mark Lansdell 0
A point I made long ago. They're still flying DC3s. Here, here!
@ Larry Beigel: Your comment is totally inappropriate. Shame on you.
Marcus Pradel 0
Gary Church 0
I find it interesting that so many aerodynamic modifications were made on the plane. I just wonder how those changes were modeled and analyzed to validate their designs. For those who may remember the British Comet literally distorted itself due to high speed flutter undiscovered in deigns and testing. I wonder if the aerodynamics of the Galloping Ghost near the speed of sound resulted from something akin to high speed flutter, literally shaking or driving the trim tab off the aircraft.
JDiver 0
It may be time to consider the folks making extensive modifications (e.g. removing five feet from the wing and aileron segments) seem to be "winging it" without extensive testing and proofing, aeronautical engineering input, etc. enabling faster aircraft - and significantly increased pressures and stresses on remaining control surfaces they may not be designed to handle. "Galloping Ghost" is not the first highly modified P-51 to suffer similar loss of a trim tab, it seems.

One way to deal with this is to only allow old warbirds to compete as essentially stock / unmodified vintage warbirds, still interesting contests to be sure, but also more likely to preserve the few remaining warbirds out there as well as pilots' lives.
chris byrne 0
This thing has bothered me all week. What a tragedy. I went one year & sat right where the plane went down. I had a group of crazy ex-TWA people in the booth on one side & Bill Lear's wife on the other side. Great times. I have to admit that I knew there was always a possibility of something going wrong. Being that close & at those speeds there isn't too much of a margin of error.
Keith Fox 0
why does the email link say 9 dead, but this article says 3?
JDiver 0
Because the initial reports said Jimmy Leeward and two others were killed; the dead count is up to eleven now, as parts were recovered and identified and some injured died in the hospital.
so sad
pellibru 0
We were 50 feet away in a box seat. Our prares and wishes go out to everyone. We will miss you Jimmy RIP Bruce and Roxanne
I saw two photographs of the left trim tab. . .departing and gone . . two days after the event. To me, that shouted Pitch-UP; so I was not surprised later in the week to see two other pictures: one suggesting a seat failure or a pilot collapse; and the other a protruding tail wheel. These seem to confirm a high-G pitch-up. However, the video coverage of the ascending A/C did not indicate the additional structural failures one would expect from such a violent maneuver at the prevailing speed.
Mark Lansdell 0
What failures would you expect to see and what was the prevailing speed? There are a lot of unknowns and guesses. I don't know that anyone had a radar gun clocking speeds, so we're stuck with eye witnesses and articles by the press,neither being very dependable. Without the speed we can't even guess at the G forces with any degree of accuracy. My bet would be you're right that the nose pitched up when the trim tab was lost, G's forced the tail wheel down and out and the pilot down into his seat at least making further control of the aircraft all but impossible and bigger troubles if he lost consciousness.
Leeward was a jerk
cuttlefish 0
An old Pilot in a souled up very old war machine participating in an event where young, agile hands and quick thinking are essential.

Eperience is not always the answer when something goes amiss.

Viewing the video makes it clear that the pilot had not the slightest chance of "steering away from the crowds", that option was not available!

Would we allw a 73 year old man to participate in Formula One racing?

No way!

Race organizers have to look long and hard at just how much modification to old aircraft is permitted and the age/health of the Zpilots.

A prevental tragedy!
cuttlefish 0
I agree! This was a high modded machine, possibly well beyond its age limits, and maybe those of the Pilots as well.

Should never have happened and attempts to brand the Pilot as a Hero are ridiculous as viewing all the vids in slow motion now turning up indicate he was simply along for the ride as a non participating passenger!


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.