Very Unfortunate

Looks like there was a crash with some spectator fatalities at the Reno Air Races. A P-51 Mustang piloted by a 74-year old experienced stunt pilot. You can see some video here of the crash. Years ago people generally accepted that sometimes accidents just happen, and it’s not anybody’s fault, nor was it some grave oversight. That is, unfortunately, not the world we live in today. A bunch of people can’t just be randomly maimed or killed. It has to be someone’s fault, and you can bet our federal overseers reaction to this will take away just a little bit more freedom. You already hear people questioning why a 74-year old was allowed to fly a plane.

I would have rather gotten into any plane piloted by that 74-year old than I would an Airbus flown by an Air France Crew. Sometimes planes crash, and it’s not anybody’s fault.

UPDATE: Already happened before, in 2008. Who would have guessed that racing high-powered aircraft like the P-51 Mustang at speeds up to 500mph in the weeds is a bit inherently dangerous?

11 thoughts on “Very Unfortunate”

  1. There are no reliable news reports on # of deaths right now but there is solid evidence that this was a mechanical failure on the tail’s horizontal flight surface (trimtab).

    There were lots of severed body parts so the three deaths they are reporting seems low, save for a miracle.

  2. It’s too bad. Very sad to see both for the victims and Reno. I bet Reno is done after this. It’s always been on my bucket list to fly there (probably in the Formula 1 class). I like Red Bull Air Racing too, but Reno is the last of the old school fastest with others on the track.

  3. Some friends of my mother were supposed to be there today. Good thing they didn’t go a day early.

  4. It is a sad day when pilots or spectators are injured.

    The failure was on the horizontal stabilizer. It appears the trim tab was lost and will reduce the pilots ability to literally move the Elevator. The P51 didn’t have hydraulic controls, it was all rods and cables from the stick and rudder peddles.

    I fly but, nothing that fast or cool.


  5. Reno Air Races = about 42 yrs old = about twenty-eight pilots killed there.

  6. A horrible tragedy.

    Both Terraformer and Eck are correct. I have also heard some speculation that he actually may have managed to direct the plane away from the biggest part of the crowd.

  7. As in auto racing there is a significant portion of the fans that want to see the accidents. Heck, in Reno after the crash they were rushing to the wreck to pocket pieces of the plane.

    The wrecks are what draw the crowds. I would not anticipate any changes.

  8. Shootin’ Buddy: I’d imagine a large part of the outcome will depend on civil litigation against the air show. Although I suppose there’s nothing stopping another org from continuing, unless the local government gets ancy.

    Side note: James Gosling, “the father of Java” (although he’s now working on very cool ocean robots) was about 40 feet from the point of impact. There’s some analysis that sounds clueful in the most recent entry, also details on exactly where it landed and its path, etc., and I’ll bet that’s all a zillion times better than what the media is delivering.

  9. The difference between it and auto racing is that it doesn’t have a government administration that tries to make everything “safe.” Also the amounts of money and audience isn’t the same as it is in auto racing events which makes it more fragile. Red Bull took a hiatus this year which I think was a combination of money and safety issues.

    I hope you are right and Reno keeps going (even if it is because partly of people’s morbid curiosity).

  10. “I’d imagine a large part of the outcome will depend on civil litigation against the air show.”

    The blood is the draw. This crash is the best thing for the business since the last crash.

    I was in Turn #4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1984 when Patrick Bedard overcorrected resulting in a horrific crash.

    The crowd cheered in appreciation, standing, screaming in approval. I sat there in shock while people were screaming “yeeeeaaaaaah, that was great!”

    Never went back.

    I have no doubt that the plane crash drew the same reaction.

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