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 WWII P-51 Crashes at Reno

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Juan Freizwidatt
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

This breaks my heart: a WWII P-51 fighter crashed into viewing stands at the Reno air show, killing 3 people (the number is likely to increase). A tragedy on every level.

Coming three months after the forced landing and destruction by fire of one of the few remaining B-17s, this is a serious loss to anyone who values WWII history. But at least the B-17 had no loss of life; the P-51 crash is utterly horrific.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44556695/ns/us_news-life/

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

So sad... Crying or Very sad

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Connie L. Gus
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:34 am Reply with quoteBack to top

How truly senseless. My heart goes out to those killed and their families and those maimed.

The loss of the P-51 occurred when the owner had 10 feet of the wings clipped and over half of the ailerons removed. The air intakes were covered over, the canopy changed to something off a jet and a boil off coolant and lubrication system was put in. At that point it was no longer a P-51 and should have been considered an experimental and not allowed to fly over populated areas.

If someone had a 1700 horsepower motor and not gave it cooling and put it in a airframe with a stall speed between a Mig 17 and a Mig 21, would it be a surprise when the motor overheated, reduced its output and the plane stalled?

If they would enforce the federal regulations and not allow clipped wing ex-fighters to fly over populated areas, people would not take a multimillion dollar object that should be in a museum and clip its wings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXu2GfT9WcI


Edit to add an 'and a'.

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Last edited by Connie L. Gus on Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:23 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:24 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks for that insight, Connie. The "improvements" made to this classic plane were downright criminal. Evil or Very Mad

This comment sickened me:

Quote:
The systems aren't proven yet. We think they're going to be okay.


They butchered the plane without really knowing what effect those changes would create. Now we know, but dozens of bystanders have paid the price.

It seems evident that this would never have happened if the plane had been left in its original configuration.

Classic hubris.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:03 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

That video is unbelievable.They were trying to get jet performance out of a piston driven aircraft,by making some ridiculous modifications.Even they didn't seem sure what would happen.
There was no loss of life when that B17 crashed,probably because it had been left alone.The designers of these aircraft were not idiots.The modifiers of that P51 certainly were.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Reno police have reported within the past 5 minutes that the death toll is up to 9. We haven't heard the end yet.

@Connie, you were WAY ahead of the press. It's only in the past couple of hours that they've discovered the podcast you linked to. Suddenly the Internet is flooded with reports about that video, trumpeting the fact that the plane in question was "heavily modified" and referencing the comment that I quoted about the systems being unproven.

It was criminal negligence. I trust that such modified aircraft will be far more closely scrutinized in the future.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Sad for the loss of life.

Sad for the loss of an incredible flying machine.

I do hope that the powers that be don't start taking away more fun activities. Make it safer for the spectators, maybe (remember deaths at <strike>soccer</strike> football matches).

The pilots know that flying is a dangerous activity. Many insurance companies won't issue life insurance if you fly and especially if you race. Most if not all spectators know that they have some level of danger getting there, being there and going home.

Nevertheless, it is sad on all accounts.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Very sad. years ago, Mrs C and I saw a Spitfire crash during a display at Woodford, luckily there was a display line well away from the crowd, so only the pilot was killed.

Yesterday at Goodwood, I saw 10 Spitfires flying together, I'll try and post pictures later in a more appropriate thread.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Here's photographic evidence showing how far beyond its limits the plane was being pushed with all the speed modifications that had been made:

Image

This was taken shortly before the plane crashed. The indentations in the circle are referred to as "oil canning" by race pilots and come from intense G forces literally twisting the body of the plane. It was well beyond what the original design was intended to bear.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

So how did this modification cause the plane to crash?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

They cut the wings 10 feet, trimmed the airelons by half, removed the cooling vents, and made various other "upgrades" to make this 60 year-old piston-engine plane fly vastly faster than it was ever intended to go. The owner admitted in June that the systems were untested but he thought they'd be okay. They took a well-proven design and tried to turn it into something it isn't and simply couldn't ever be. You can't make a 1944 propeller plane into a 2011 jet. They pushed the plane far beyond the limits of the original engineering. In the end, a small piece of the tail broke off from the stresses it wasn't meant to endure, and that was enough to put the plane out of control. If he'd been flying at 1,000 feet he might have been able to recover, as an earlier pilot did under the same circumstances at the same race about 15 years ago. but he was only a couple hundred feet above the ground; the loss of control put him in a straight upward direction at 10Gs; he passed out and the plane went straight down at 500mph into the edge of the grandstands.

Edit to add: what bothers me most are the news stories that still refer to a "WWII fighter plane." Yes, it was a WWII fighter, once upon a time. But if it had been left in the form it was originally built it wouldn't have crashed. Nor could it have come close to the speed the owner was pushing for. Some reports are now stressing "heavily modified WWII fighter." That's honest, and needs to be repeated lest people start thinking that P-51s are inherently unsafe. They aren't. It was one of the best planes ever made. There are still almost 200 of them in flying condition today.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Some of the pictures I have seen also show the tail wheel lowered.Hard to say why it was down,but I imagine it would create a bit of undesired drag.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

[rant]
Quote:
74-year-old pilot
racing antique planes way past their expiration date in an airshow. Well done clapping

Next time take all visitors up in a plane (could be modern, up to code, reliable) and ask at 10000 feet all the visitors to leave plane with WWII parachutes.
Hey, now everybody refuses to jump, strange!

But they still come to the show trusting that the old planes are up to code and reliable, their pilots well trained and fit to fly.
He might have had a heart attack or stroke for all they know. During the war way worse banged up planes made it home safely after all, but never in first place.

Useless slaughter of public approved by the organization who already had had some experience and knew what to expect.

Quote:
Organizers softened two of the curves pilots negotiate after crashes into nearby neighborhoods in 1998 and the one in 1999. In 2007 and 2008, four pilots were killed at the races, prompting local school officials to consider barring student field trips to the event.

And from an environmental point of view, why can they fly and I have to drive around with a catastrophic converter under my vehicle ?
[/rant]

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:09 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

doc holliday wrote:
Some of the pictures I have seen also show the tail wheel lowered.Hard to say why it was down,but I imagine it would create a bit of undesired drag.



I've seen a lot of pictures posted like that and I really wonder which are credible. Some of them appear to be stock photos or something.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:13 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

The ones I have seen to appear to be of this aircraft.It is very distinctive with the canopy modifications,and the air intake missing from the belly.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I know little about aircraft and almost as much on photos but I think it had more to do with the site I was seeing them on than anything. Prison Planet had about 3 pages of pix and articles of all kinds. IMHO, there were no actual photos in that site but I could be wrong.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Here's a surprisingly detailed and thoughtful blog entry that goes into a lot of detail about the entire incident. Although written by a litigation attorney, he seems very even-handed and he obviously knows what he's talking about.

Regarding the lowered tail wheel, according to a pilot who studied the photos:

Quote:
The tail wheel is held up by hydraulics only with no mechanical uplock, thus indicating a high G-force causing it to extend.


In other words, the intense forces that the plane was undergoing caused the wheel to fall out of its normal stowed position, but it was not locked in place so it hadn't been deployed by the pilot. Yet another sign of how over-stressed the plane was.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Having only watched military airshows that had the planes from our squadrons, I don't know much about these types of modified aircraft.

Having said that, I have a question.

Are these planes inspected in anyway by certified people with A&P licenses with FAA certification?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

The FAA was theoretically deeply involved in vetting the planning of the show and in reviewing relevant records of aircraft and pilots. There's still some question whether some of the major modifications o this plane were made after the last official certification. That will certainly be studied closely as part of the investigation.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:48 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

So it is possible that some modification could have gotten in under the radar (so to speak)?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:29 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hard to say at this point, that's one topic which seems to remain a bit fuzzy. You can be sure it will be looked at closely by the NTSB.

Quote:
Other officials on Saturday said that all pilots and aircraft are vetted before they are allowed to perform.

According to Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, the Reno Air Racing Assn. examines all of the aircraft to ensure they are properly qualified and airworthy. FAA inspectors review records to ensure the inspections are carried out.

The FAA had approved the Reno races this year, but Gregor said the approval was the same as was granted for previous races.


It sounds like the FAA may have relied too heavily on the racing association, and pretty much rubber-stamped the reports based on previous years.

The podcast which Connie mentioned in one of the first posts, and which is now being regularly quoted in articles, shows that the owner was keeping a lot of secrets about exactly what modifications were made. He didn't want his competition to know the full story. It's certainly possible that the FAA was also not fully in the loop. Again, this is still speculative but we can expect a lot more oversight in the future -- if such races continue at all.

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bohigal
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hasn't the FAA been a bit straitjacketed lately?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:08 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Good point. I imagine that overseeing air races has been a far lower priority than keeping commercial traffic safe, especially after the recent shutdown in the budget crunch. They're stretched pretty thin.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

They don't seem to be stretched too thin at the local aerospace company in a neighboring state where FEDX, UPS and Delta Airplanes are being refurbished. They are all over the place like "white on rice" which is good, however all these are cargo carrying planes (Delta Dash in case of Delta). Hopefully they have enough FAA agents where the passenger-carrying planes are being worked on.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:23 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I certainly can't fault the stellar job the FAA does in overseeing commercial airline travel. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) the last serious accident in the US was the forced water landing of the US Air A320 in the Hudson river in January of 2009 -- almost 3 years ago. And fortunately that accident had no loss of life. It was also a fluke; a flock of birds took out both engines, something for which no mechanical oversight could have anticipated.

According to the TSA, there are 28,000 commercial flights in the US every day. That's a staggering number -- over 10 million a year. The safety record of commercial airlines is a real testament to the job the FAA does in that regard.

It's perhaps no wonder they can't stay on top of every modification made by a racing enthusiast hell-bent on bypassing all accepted aviation engineering knowledge in a quest for more speed.

_________________
"SATAN WILL KILL YOU . BECAUSE YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF MERMAID"

"HOW DOES IT SOUND TO YOU THAT ANOTHER PERSON IS DEALING WITH YOU AND ASK YOU TO CONTACT ANOTHER PERSON AND NOW YOU SAID THAT YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH THE OTHER PERSON WITHOUT THE KNOWING OF THE PERSON THAT ASK YOU TO CONTACT THE OTHER PERSON"

I apologize again that I will lick the dust from your sandals

Sand Timer x4: Shorty
Safari x 16:
US lad w/Capone: ( Golden Pith ) Black Ribbon
- ATL>DC>ATL>Vegas>Seattle>ATL>San Diego>LA>ATL>Seattle>ATL>WY>ATL>Aspen>ATL (21K+ miles, $11K+ expenses)
Shorty w/bohigal:
- Lagos>Abidjan
Random lads:
- Douala>Korup; Lagos>Cotonou>Parakou; Cotonou>Niger border; Cotonou>Pendjari>jail in Tanguietta; Asaba>Abuja; Accra>Tamale
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