Reno Air Races Accident NTSB Hearing (2012)
Credit: National Transportation Safety Board - NTSB WPR11MA454
Deteriorated Parts Allowed Flutter Which Led to Fatal Crash at 2011 Reno
WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board determined today that
deteriorated locknut inserts found in the highly modified North American
P-51D airplane that crashed during the 2011 National Championship Air Races
in Reno, Nevada, allowed the trim tab attachment screws to become loose,
and even initiated fatigue cracking in one screw. This condition, which
resulted in reduced stiffness in the elevator trim system, ultimately led
to aerodynamic flutter at racing speed that broke the trim tab linkages,
resulting in a loss of controllability and the eventual crash.
On September 16, 2011, as the experimental single-seat P-51D airplane "The
Galloping Ghost," traveling about 445 knots, or 512 mph, in the third lap
of the six-lap race, passed pylon 8, it experienced a left-roll upset and
high-G pitch up. During the upset sequence, the airplane's vertical
acceleration peaked at 17.3 G, causing incapacitation of the pilot. Seconds
later, a section of the left elevator trim tab separated in flight. The
airplane descended and impacted the ramp in the spectator box seating area,
killing the pilot and 10 spectators and injuring more than 60 others.
"In Reno, the fine line between observing risk and being impacted by the
consequences when something goes wrong was crossed," said NTSB Chairman
Deborah A. P. Hersman. "The pilots understood the risks they assumed; the
spectators assumed their safety had been assessed and addressed."
Contributing to the accident were the undocumented and untested major
modifications made to the airplane, as well as the pilot's operation of the
airplane in the unique air racing environment without adequate flight
The nearly 70-year-old airplane had undergone numerous undocumented
modifications. The modifications, designed to increase speed, included
shortening of the wings, installation of a boil-off cooling system for the
engine, increasing the elevator counterweights, modification of the pitch
trim system, and changing the incidence of the horizontal and vertical
Although the Federal Aviation Administration required that a flight
standards district office be notified in writing of any major changes made
to The Galloping Ghost before it could be flown, investigators could find
no records that such notifications were made except for the installation of
the boil-off cooling system. The undocumented major modifications were
identified through wreckage examinations, photographic evidence, and
interviews with ground crewmembers.
In April, while the investigation was ongoing and after the NTSB's
investigative hearing in January on air race and air show safety, the NTSB
issued 10 safety recommendations to the Reno Air Racing Association, the
National Air racing Group Unlimited Division, and the FAA. These
requiring engineering evaluations for aircraft with major modifications;
raising the level of safety for spectators and personnel near the race
improving FAA guidance for air race and course design;
providing race pilots with high-G training and evaluating the feasibility
of G-suit requirements for race pilots; and
tracking the resolution of race aircraft discrepancies identified during
prerace technical inspections.
Although no additional safety recommendations were issued today, the Board
reclassified nine existing recommendations as described below:
Eligibility Requirements for Aircraft with Major Modifications -
recommendations A 12 9 and A-12-13 classified "Open—Acceptable Response"
Prerace Technical Inspection Discrepancy Tracking - recommendation A 12 10,
classified "Closed—Acceptable Action"
Spectator Safety - recommendations A 12 14 and 15, classified
High G Training, G-Suit Feasibility for Pilots - recommendations A 12 11,
-12, -16, and -17, classified "Closed—Acceptable Action"
A tenth safety recommendation, issued to the FAA, which addressed air race
and course design guidance was reclassified as "Open—Acceptable Response"
on July 25, 2012.
"It's good news for the air races that so many of our recommendations have
been addressed," said Chairman Hersman. "We will continue to push for the
full implementation of all of our safety recommendations."
A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause and a complete
list of the reclassified safety recommendations, is available at:
Delicious Candy Blue SMD Escalade Bagged on 26's (Update 6) Blacked Out
The weekend is here and i decided to snatch up Chickens Caddy from the
paint shop (Autobody Workshop, Sacramento, California) for a few days to
get it all put back together again. Since you have seen it last, i added
brand new LED Tail Lights, tinted Headlights, and got the door panels and A
pillar's back in place. Roy Devore, the man responsible for laying down
the Candy, also shot the tail lights for me with a blend of clear with
black. It worked out great! After i got the system up and running, i
called Mike at Tint 2k in Sacramento to come by and black out the windows.
We ended up going with 5% all the way around on the 4 doors (i previously
did the rear 3 myself) and 30% on the windshield. He wont drive this too
much so its fine. Its fine anyway, its not as dark on the inside as it
looks. You can see fine. Anyway, i just thought i would show you guys how
this thing is turning out and what it looks like in the California sun. I
still have work to do, i am adding Ridetech Titanium Shocks on all 4
corners starting next week. I also have a few nick nacks to handle and it
should be ready to finally go home!
Just in case you didnt know what those amps in the back are, they are 2
Rockford Fosgate T15k Amplifiers. There is 8 Fi BTL 18's and all Rockford
Fosgate Mids/highs. Windows PC 10.2" Touchscreen and more....basicly the
It is sitting on custom one-off, staggered 3 Piece Wheels by AZA (
http://www.azaforged.com ) wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero 295/25/26" Tires.
Upoholstery is by Sean Kat, Kat Kustom Interiors Sacramento. I did some of
it myself, but the stitching was all Sean Kat.
Brakes by Wilwood: 16" Rotors 6 Piston calpers front , 14.5" 4 Piston
Paint of course by Roy Devore Roy@autobodyworkshop.com if you have any
The song used in the end is by Dee of Hallway productions - he just dropped
his mix tape the other day. It is available for download here
Hallway productions has been down with SMD from day one so do me a favor
and hit up their channel at http://www.Youtube.com/HallwayProductionz and
Last but not least, if you want to see this caddy built from the ground up,
visit my website at http://www.SteveMeadeDesigns.com/board
a direct link to THOUSANDS of pictures of this hoopty being tore down and
rebuilt, click here
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