Air Show Crash Pilot Likely Incapacitated: NTSB

NTSB produced a graphic showing how significantly Leeward’s plane had been modified from its original design to increase its speed.

Jimmy Leeward, the 74-year-old stunt pilot who was at the controls when a modified P-51D airplane crashed into the spectator area during the National Championship Air Races last September in Reno, Nev., probably was incapacitated seconds before impact. Leeward had not previously flown his Galloping Ghost aircraft at that speed on that course, NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman said.

Following the agency's April 10 briefing in Reno, the site of the September 2011 crash, NTSB said evidence "indicates that both the airplane and pilot experienced an unanticipated, rapid onset of high g-forces and appears to support pilot incapacitation."

"We are issuing a safety recommendation to ensure that pilots and their modified airplanes are put through their paces prior to race day," Hersman said.

Telemetry data indicate Leeward's plane exceeded the accelerometer's 9-G limit six seconds before the plane's left elevator trim tab separated from the aircraft, which caused the crash.

NTSB produced a graphic showing how significantly Leeward's plane had been modified from its original design. Its wingspan was reduced from 37 feet to 29 feet and "significant changes" were made to its flight controls, both to increase its speed, according to NTSB, which said extensive modifications are typical for airplanes raced in the unlimited class, but there is a lack of documentation and inspection associated with those modifications.

Leeward died in the Sept. 16, 2011, crash, as did 10 spectators. More than 60 spectators were injured. One NTSB recommendation to the Reno Air Racing Association is to review the current Reno race course and consider changing it so spectators will be less exposed to the planes.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Best Practices to Navigate ISO 45001

    Learn helpful tips and tricks to navigate your transition to ISO 45001 certification and ensure an effective health and safety management system.

  • Improve Your Safety Culture

    Learn the 3 fundamental areas to focus on to achieve safety culture excellence and what you can do to boost employee engagement in your EHS programs.

  • Chemical Safety: 5 Questions Answered by Experts

    Get answers to 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to effectively mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your chemical data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management technology program.

  • How Has COVID-19 Changed Safety Culture?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for health and safety professionals to rethink how they manage risk and develop stronger safety cultures. Read this eBook to learn actionable steps you can implement today to improve your programs.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING: SOFTWARE
      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
    • HAND PROTECTION
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue