Framework

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The P-51 Mustang airplane approaches the ground moments before crashing during an air show in Reno.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Garret Woodson / Associated Press

People rush to help injured spectators following the crash of a vintage World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane at the Reno air races. Eight spectators and the pilot died.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian Brunetti / REUTERS

Cynthia Stanton, of Fernley, Nev., looks away as a needle is inserted into her arm by phlebotomist D. J. Devine at United Blood Services in Reno. More than 200 people came to give blood for crash victims.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Mary Bartlett, 79, reads about the crash of a World War II-era fighter plane at the Reno air races. Bartlett, who has attended the race for more than 40 years, was sitting in a campground outside the race when the crash occurred.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Reno deputy police chief David Evans speaks at a news conference in Reno on Saturday about first responders to Friday's plane crash.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Andy Delk pushes a race plane onto the tarmac after the cancellation of the Reno Air Races in Reno, Nev. September 17, 2011.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Max Whittaker / REUTERS

The American flag and the POW flag fly at half-staff at the Reno Air Races Saturday. The event was canceled after a fatal plane crash on Friday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Crew members move Pitts stunt planes after the Reno Air Races were canceled after a plane crash on Friday killed several people and injured dozens of others at the event.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

The P-51 Mustang flown by Jimmy Leeward is shown just before it crashed. Leeward was a veteran stunt pilot.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

A P-51 Mustang airplane is shown right before crashing at the Reno Air show.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Tim O'Brien / Grass Valley Union

In the first of a sequence of photos, the P-51 Mustang crashes at the edge of the spectator area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

Debris flies toward the main group of fans watching the race. The crash created a horrific scene strewn with smoking debris.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

Large chunks of the plane and other debris fall to the ground.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

Some spectators duck, others run as debris from the Mustang passes over their heads.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

Medics help injured bystanders out of a helicopter into Renown Medical Center after a plane crashed into the crowd Friday at the Reno National Championship Air Races. A World War II-era fighter plane plunged into the grandstands during a popular annual air show, injuring at least 75 spectators and leaving a horrific scene of bodies and wreckage.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Liz Margerum / Reno Gazette-Journal

Medics help injured bystanders out of a helicopter into Renown Medical Center after a plane crashed into the crowd at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Liz Margerum / Reno Gazette-Journal

A crowd gathers around debris after the crash.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Tim O'Brien / Grass Valley Union

Debris from the plane that crashed at the Reno Air Races is scattered in front of the grandstand at Stead Airport.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Andy Barron / Reno Gazette-Journal

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell listens to a press conference following the crash of a vintage World War II-era fighter plane into the grandstands during the annual air show.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cathleen Allison / Associated Press

Mike Houghton, president of the Reno Air Racing Association, left, holds a news conference after a vintage World War II-era fighter plane plunged into the grandstands during a popular annual air show.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Kevin Clifford / Associated Press

Bystanders embrace after a Second World War fighter plane crashed into the stands at the Reno Air Races.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cathleen Allison / Associated Press

Pilot Jimmy Leeward prepares to take off in his P-51 Mustang prior to flying the race in which he crashed at the Reno air races Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ward Howes / Associated Press

A Sept. 15, 2010, photo, shows longtime Reno Air Race pilot Jimmy Leeward with his P-51 Mustang. Leeward was said to be the pilot in the crash.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marilyn Newton / Reno Gazette-Journal

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Reno air show crash kills nine people

At least nine people were confirmed killed and more than 50 injured Friday afternoon when a plane crashed into the stands at an air race in Reno. Because of the number and severity of injuries, the death toll was expected to rise.

Mike Houghton, president of the National Championship Air Races in Reno, said the National Transportation Safety Board had taken over the investigation and would determine a cause but that the pilot, 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, was “an experienced, talented and qualified pilot.”

The crash at the Reno air races was the first to take the lives of spectators, but it wasn’t the first to kill a pilot.  At least 19 other pilots have died in crashes at the Reno air races since 1972, including three deaths in 2007.

FULL COVERAGE: Deadly crash at Reno air show

77 Comments

  1. September 17, 2011, 1:03 am

    If this is a photo of the plane immediately before the impact, where is the pilots head? And why is the tail gear extended but the main gear are not? Another photo is this series show the same situation. Possible incapacitation of the pilot? Doesn't explain the gear problem though.

    By: spadlvr@gmail.com
  2. September 17, 2011, 1:56 am

    The look says it all.
    A sad day for aviation.

    By: Ralph T
  3. September 17, 2011, 4:14 am

    Wow, what to say here…unfortunate for all involved and the organizers etc. Breathtakingly shocking and very sad for the by-standers. I've saw now a few air show mishaps that are watch at your own risk events and to all that are affected by them I'm deeply saddened. This comes with the nature of this sport so with that I'd like to say that I am envious of everyone's courage to partake, share the grief and live to express the sudden but fearless loss of true champion flyers and spectators.
    It's our own choice to do what we please and events will always offer danger no matter what the sport, this comes as no surprise and should always be expected.
    Change, if any could be that any performance must be done minimum 1 mile from spectators. Whether this is already a fact I do not know and am no organizer or partaker of any sort so excuse my ignorance on this matter however a minimum space may grumble viewers however the safety must be a concern.

    From the wilds of Northern Ontario Canada…

    By: Rog
  4. September 17, 2011, 5:13 am

    This is a modified P-51 Mustang. It is a "tail dragger", two main wheels under the wings and a small pivoting tail wheel that does not retract.

    Can't answer about the pilot's head, wondered the same myself…

    By: mkehayias@yahoo.com
  5. September 17, 2011, 6:28 am

    The tail wheel is fixed, not retractable like the mains. The pilot sits very low in this highly modified P-51, so it's difficult to see him. Nothing looks out-of-place in this shot, so perhaps he blacked out pulling too many g's….and at 74?

    By: pibandoro@gmail.com
  6. September 17, 2011, 7:26 am

    On these planes the tail wheel is fixed.

    By: wozzola
  7. September 17, 2011, 8:02 am

    According to spectator reports, the pilot had just pulled up very sharply, putting the airplane into an almost vertical climb. This produces a very high G force which likely caused the pilot to black out and lose control of the airplane. That would explain why the pilot cannot be seen in the cockpit in the photos of the airplane immediately before the impact with the ground.

    By: eeem
  8. September 17, 2011, 8:26 am

    On 'tail draggers' the tail wheel does not extend or retract.

    By: wbrwianiii@yahoo.com
  9. September 17, 2011, 9:16 am

    The tail wheels do retract on these planes get your facts straight

    By: bbearjager@gmail.com
  10. September 17, 2011, 9:18 am

    They do retract because of the G's he was pulling forced the tail wheel out

    By: bearjager@gmail.com
  11. September 17, 2011, 9:20 am

    Check out this pic and you can see that the tail wheel is retracted http://hydro51r.deviantart.com/art/Galloping-Ghos

    By: bearjager@gmail.com
  12. September 17, 2011, 9:26 am

    The pilot would still be visible in the cockpit regardless of his condition. They photoshopped his head out of the picture. The P-51 uses a "five point harness" seat belt system. It keeps the body upright and secured into the cockpit. You would still see his shoulders and head. Obviously his face is also visible in the original photo and someone made the decision to alter it.

    By: sgrant@gmail.com
  13. September 17, 2011, 10:02 am

    The tail wheel on the P-51 does retract hydraulically. You can see in the photos the gear doors are open. Here is a phot of the bottom of this plane: http://www.mustangsmustangs.us/p-51/p51survivors/… Also, the cockpit of this plane has been extensively modified and the canopy is smaller than the original so the pilot should be visible in this view. One possibility is a seat failure. The seat in the P-51 is ajustable up and down as well as forward and back. Video appears to show the plane under full power from pull up to impact, this could indicate the pilot experienced G-induced loss of consciousness (GLOC).

    By: daoteroNM@gmail.com
  14. September 17, 2011, 10:34 am

    Also witnesses are saying the plane missed the stands and the people. It was the shrapnel created by the impact that killed and injured everyone.

    By: Sgtsgrant@gmail.com
  15. September 17, 2011, 11:06 am

    WE WILL REMEMBER THEM…………………….

    By: leopain@mweb.co.za
  16. September 17, 2011, 11:46 am

    Oh, come on… Why would anybody photoshop it? Ever consider that this highly modified racing machine might not have the original seatbelts? I got rid of my fixed shoulder belts long ago in my plane, in favor of an inertia-reel system, precisely so I COULD lean forward and move a bit better in flight.

    By: jimdgriz@aol.com
  17. September 17, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Other photos not shown here show broken elevator trim tab as cause of vertical climb at over 10 Gs which blacked him out as well as pulled out the tail wheel. Similar failure occurred to another pilot in P51 named Voodoo in 1998, which caused pilot to lose consciousness, except his plane kept climbing to 9,000 feet when he woke up and was able to recover. This pilot not so fortunate in that he won his fight with the trim tab but that nosed the plane down. He cannot be seen so is probably unconscious due to G loads.

    By: tls258@gmail.com
  18. September 17, 2011, 12:55 pm

    The plane is a P-51 A the tail wheel does not retract .
    The tail wheel didn't retract until the P-51D

    By: just me
  19. September 17, 2011, 12:56 pm

    The plane in this picture is a P-51A The Galloping Ghost is a P-51D

    By: Just me
  20. September 17, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Sorry when I first looked at the photo I saw a P-51A not the P51-D that is in the picture.
    I am soooo old.

    By: Just me
  21. September 17, 2011, 3:07 pm

    The pilots that fly these aircraft live on the edge while doing what they love. We are always deeply saddened when in a split second something goes horribly wrong. We are reminded of the both the limits to man and the unlimited potential in mans nature on these sad occasions. God bless all those so tragically affected, may the families find strength and peace.

  22. September 17, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Galloping Ghost is/ was a HIGHLY MODIFIED P-51D. The bubble canopy having giving way to a built up turtle deck oveer the after fuselage. The tail would ordinarily retract along with the mains. Think about it……..with all of the other modifications, would you leave the tail wheel hanging out if you wanted to attain 500mph?

    The scoop is also missing because the coolant system was changed to a boil-off system. The radiator actually sitting in a presurized tank of alcohol just aft of the cockpit.

    I think the speculation is correct about the trim tab causing a high G climb which forced the tail wheel to extend and caused Leeward to black out.

    Also, the canopies on this aircxraft (also Voodo and Strega) are built up as well. If the pilot leans forward in the cockpit, his helmet disappears from view. If Leeward lost conscience, he would have slumped in the cockpit and the cockpit enclosure would appear empty.

    By: lindyhopjack@att.net
  23. September 17, 2011, 4:03 pm

    If the photo of the plane pointed down just before impact is real I will be very surprised. If you look at other photos of this plane in flight (on the pilots web site, for example) in EVERY photo you can see the pilot's helmet. Even if he had a heart attack and died he would be leaning up against the glass. There is nowhere for him to be. Plus to get this angle the photographer would have to have been far away from the stands with a very powerful telephoto lens. It is perfectly from the side with no blur whatsoever. He probably could not have gotten the other photo of the plane upside down from the same location. I also searched for "Times Valley Union" and did not find any news organization with Tim O'Brien as a photographer.

    By: Doubting Tom
  24. September 17, 2011, 6:25 pm

    The Mustang's rear wheel is not retractable!

    By: Sikpartee@yahoo.com
  25. September 17, 2011, 7:39 pm

    The plane in the “crashing” photo has been photo-shopped. The original image was taken sitting on the runway, cut out and overlayed on some generic cloud. Simply save the image, rotate 90 degrees so that it is horizontal. Save the image of the plane on the runway, with the pilot in it, invert 180 degrees so both images are oriented the same way. Scale the crashing image to 850 x 644.The orientation of the two planes in the two images match almost exactly, the differences so minor that they are easily attributed to camera position.

    The pilot in the “crashing” image is not visible because he is not there. The plane is sitting at rest. That is also why the propeller

    looks so crisp. It is not moving. The author could not be bothered to remove the rear wheel.

    By: theo
  26. September 17, 2011, 7:55 pm

    Some people just don’t know what they’re talking about and should remain quite.

    The aircraft suffered a separation of the elevator trim tab. This resulted in the A/C pitching up violently and inducing substantial “G” force sufficient to pull the tail wheel out of the retracted position. This amount of “G” force either caused the now blacked out pilots seat mounts to collapse or more likely, threw him forward and down against the panel and stick as the A/C rotated up. He never knew what hit him.

    By: Bob
  27. September 17, 2011, 8:13 pm

    Absolutely, totally WRONG re the tail wheel. It retracted not only when the P-51 Mustang was the A-36 Apache (before the airframe was mated with the Merlin engine) but even on the prototype!

    By: apollo11reporter
  28. September 17, 2011, 8:40 pm

    The one thing that really caught my attention was the lack of any up elevator, no visible pilot which, imho, equates to either a complete lose of the elevator control linkage or an unconscious pilot.

    By: camaropilot
  29. September 17, 2011, 8:56 pm

    I Agree Theo. I believe the photo is altered also. Too crisp, can't see the head. Also, the photo with the trim tab missing I believe is photo shopped too. I first saw it today on the website of an aviation lawyer of all places. That the plane crashed with no fire tells me the plane went down with no fuel on board.

    By: Nick
  30. September 17, 2011, 9:05 pm

    Tail wheel is retractable on P51A-D, and most certainly on this modified bird, which was far from the original airframe. It is a taildragger, but that photo is not an actual shot of the plane crashing. It’s a photoshop of the plane at rest that has been rotated. This plane was moving >500mph before impact. A digital still video camera with sufficiently fast shutter speed to prevent the blur (say, 1/2,000 sec) would require either a particularly lucky shot. The HD video capture mode on the fanciest SLRs (so 30fps or therabouts), has nowhere near 1/2,000 sec shutter speeds.

    By: Pappy Boyington
  31. September 17, 2011, 10:00 pm

    Or was there a pilot at all? I have flown these types of planes via remote before. In another photo, the trim tab is missing on the left elevator. Anyone with good "seat of the pants" feelings would have been able to compensate. It this thing was remotely piloted, that would explain why it didn't recover from the departure of controlled flight. I want to see pictures with the pilot to disprove this theory.

    By: yesou82@gmail.com
  32. September 17, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Photo 1 of 23 shows the aircraft in such a way that no photo shopping could be construed. The tailwheel has extended, probably because the g-forces overcame the uplock. The pilot is not visible, probably because he was unconscious. The propeller is nearly stopped because of the shutter speed. The elevators appear to be in the neutral position, indicating that the pilot was not pulling back on the control column. The aircraft was completely out of control at that point.

    For some reason many people assume the pilot is acting heroically “steering” the aircraft from various objects on the ground. Not in this case, not in many cases.

    I was at the Races last year, saw the pilot, saw the aircraft, met only wonderful people at the event which I attended for the full five days. My thoughts are with them all this year.

    Machines fail, people make mistakes, but neither should be a surprise, especially at this event. Nothing is 100% safe, and to expect that in this, the most dangerous type of racing on the planet, is foolish. We revere those who push these limits, and that’s why I hope the Reno Air Races continue. If they do, I’ll be back.

    By: Stuart
  33. September 17, 2011, 10:35 pm

    From my vantage point in the stands, about 100 feet behind and up from the impact site, the plane hit directly onto the box seats in the rows closest to the grand stands and the impact debris shattered forward and out with some debris actually hitting fans in the stands. Worst thing I've ever witnessed in my life.

    By: elmcannic@gmail.com
  34. September 17, 2011, 11:11 pm

    It's funny that with something so trivial as a rear wheel this subculture can't even be polite with each other in the face of a tragedy. Reminds me of Rage Against the Machine "Evil Empire" Album cover.

    By: Guest
  35. September 17, 2011, 11:25 pm

    Yes and no. He hit the box seats between the first and second row. My husband helped with triage and the crater was right next to the wounded. But yes, the shrapnel also caused a lot of injuries and some of the fatalities.

    By: bluelyon
  36. September 18, 2011, 8:03 am

    A clarification. I compared photos 3 and 8(la-ne-renocrashfr8.jpg) Photo 3 showing the plane on the ground. Photo 8 showing the plane pointing straight down to the LEFT. All other photos have the plane moving to the right. The photographer of 8 would have to have been at the far side if the field.

    By: theo
  37. September 18, 2011, 12:29 pm

    This hideously engineered beast had death written all over it.

    By: regis49
  38. September 18, 2011, 1:42 pm

    The tail wheel does retract. I think he had a severe elevator flutter. That may have unlocked the tail wheel allowing it to extend. I also think the bolts that hold the elevator halfs together may have failed. That would explain why he rolled at the top of his pitch up.

    By: Bob Poortman
  39. September 18, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Tim O'Brien is a photographer for a rather small town local newspaper, the Grass Valley Union.

    By: appsman123@gmail.com
  40. September 18, 2011, 2:09 pm

    I am not a pilot nor do I know much about the P-51 but if you look in picture 22 you can see that the rear wheel has a compartment (with retractable cover) – so I am going to assume that the wheel retracts.

    By: wind
  41. September 18, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Doubting Tom is questioning the picture's authenticity is completely without merit in this case. Although it's good to question what we see on the internet these days, I can assure you it is authentic. First of all, I know the photographer, he sent those pictures immediately from on-site. He has a very expensive Nikon digital SLR that is capable of such images. I have seen his work during other crashes that show extreme clarity at the moment of impact from other accidents, in one case at Reno (a year or two ago) he photographed a crash landing. (pilot survived) We were able to identify the pilot's sunglasses in mid air after the airplane had disintegrated around him. Tim & his brothers work the airshow every year and have done so since the 1970s. He also provides extremely sharp images to the pilots and crews of these aircraft during the races. Tim is of the utmost character and it would never come to his mind to do such a thing. Did you notice his other high-quality photos of the accident site? They are of the same sharpness. You accuse the picture of being photo-shopped, did you notice the pitch of the propeller?? A plane parked on the ramp will have the propeller at near zero pitch, this propeller is biting the air with substantial pitch showing that it's at a high power setting, you'll also notice it is slightly blurred by it's rotation, a stationary aircraft photo would have the prop at zero pitch and in sharp focus. On another note regarding accident itself… and I say this as a life long pilot of high performance aircraft, including planes of this vintage. The trim tab is an *extremely* important part of the flight controls. In a "fixed tail-plane" aircraft like this one the native (un-trimmed) position of the horizontal stabilizer would be set to have the aircraft in stable level flight at a much much lower speed (maybe 150mph + or – some) than the 400+ at which they were racing. This means that the trim tab would be at a substantial nose-down setting. Sudden loss of the trim tab would result in a violent pitch-up and G-forces far in excess of human tolerance. Doing the math on coefficient of lift vs. speed will give you some scary numbers. That pilot blacked out instantly. Even if he did not black out, he wouldn't have been able to lift his arm to make any adjustments, he would have been completely immobilized. I've pulled 6 or 7 Gs (deliberately of course) and know how paralyzing it is. At the forces I'm guessing he experienced, he didn't have a chance. That plane continued in a high-G, full-power, maneuver until it hit the ground. Also, why would he put a fake picture in the set when he had a perfect picture of the plane inverted with a missing trim tab? The tail wheel is extended because it suddenly weighed something like 10-times it's normal weight. It does not have positive uplocks like the gear does.
    Also, As for not finding a "Tim O'Brien at the Times Union"… go back and read the byline again. It clearly says; "Tim O'Brien, Grass Valley Union". I assure you, both are real, I delivered that paper for five years.

    By: denbuss
  42. September 18, 2011, 4:16 pm

    The owner and pilot was not educated enough to know whether his modifications would eventually, or in sum, create a systems level failure. The machine was ancient. I'll bet there weren't any aero engineers helping, no xrays, no calculations, no safety factor, nothing. Just mechanics fooling around. Nor would the owner and pilot have the reaction time or g-force resistance that could have helped. Airplanes are flying bombs – we learned that 9/11. Children in the bodies of 74 year olds should not be allowed to monkey with, and then play with, flying bombs over a crowd. Tragic. Yes, they should ban air racing or at least make it take place a mile from spectators, over water or something.

    By: really@really.com
  43. September 18, 2011, 4:17 pm

    So what you are saying is that all 3 of the photos up there that show the plane going down, the first one in the series, the one nearly verticle and the one just before that, all attributed to 3 different persons, two from the AP are all photoshopped? Never mind the blurred prop on the one, or the fact that the shadows on all of them are different from each other as well as the shot of the plane on the tarmac, or the fact that all three of them also show the rear wheel extended with the other two still retracted.

    But no you must be correct. All three of them have to be fake.

    I do admit the lack of fire did surprise me as well though. I wonder where the fire in the firey crash went to

    By: guest
  44. September 18, 2011, 4:29 pm

    So what you're saying is that despite the fact that there are clearly tents and vehicles on the tarmac on the other side of the plane from where the spectators are in the stand you're trying to say that no one should have been able to take a picture of the plane from the side the spectators wern't on?

    By: guest
  45. September 18, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Theo and Doubting T… if you watch the video in the following link you'll see that Tim O'Brien is quite *real*. http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/09/17/reno-de

    By: denbuss
  46. September 18, 2011, 5:16 pm

    They are just trying to figure it out. If you want to read impoliteness, at the yahoo site they are making cruel jokes about the incident. Its really sad.

    By: joel
  47. September 18, 2011, 5:31 pm

    Have enlarged photo 8 and can see no indication of adjustment to this picture and canopy has not been censored. All shadows indicate that this plane is vertical. It is not positive but the reflection in the nosecone does seem to reflect what could be the image of the stands. Hope this throws more ideas into what happened to the pilot.

    By: David Fellows
  48. September 18, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Theo and Doubting T… if you watch the video in YouTube you'll be quite certain that Tim O'Brien is indeed *real*. They won't let us post a link in here, but if you search YouTube with the following text you'll see it.
    Tim O'Brien re: Crash of Galloping Ghost Jimmy Leeward

    By: denbuss
  49. September 18, 2011, 6:27 pm

    Aside from not being able to see the pilot's head (and whether it has a retractable tail for cryin' out loud) , look at the close-ups showing the ailerons, elevators and rudder. They are all in neutral position, as if the pilot were giving zero input (unconscious) or flight controls were broken.

    By: omp@kev.us
  50. September 18, 2011, 6:37 pm

    As to the "missing pilot" under the canopy… if you look at the picture above of Galloping Ghost showing it on the runway with the pilot, you'll notice he is sitting very low in the cockpit. They are designed that way to prevent the pilot's head from hitting it in negative-G maneuvers. When looking at that it's easy to see that he would be pushed down out of sight if he suddenly would weigh something like ten times his normal weight.

    By: denbuss
  51. September 18, 2011, 6:46 pm

    Yes, the airplane was old, however, I would venture to say that there is scarcely a part in that aircraft that is from it's original manufacture. These machines go through extensive engineering to be made able to withstand this duty, the fact that the wings didn't come off in that extreme pitch up at such speed is testimony to that.

    By: denbuss
  52. September 18, 2011, 8:43 pm

    Blue,
    Glad you and your husband are here to retell your experience, God bless.

    By: elmcannic@gmail.com
  53. September 18, 2011, 8:55 pm

    Thank you denbuss for your informative input. Most of us who saw, or are reading of this tradegy are ignorant to the sciences of aerodynamics. What seems to be an irregularity in our opinion is simply the facts and how these facts affect the overall handling/manuverability of the aircraft at what…400mph are unbelievable, as the outcome was here. Thanks again for you insight.

    By: elmcannic@gmail.com
  54. September 19, 2011, 8:17 am

    The reflection from the nose cone seems to show that the plane is horizontal — and has been photoshopped to look vertical. Look at the horizon line in the reflection; it seems to be parallel with the plane axis.

    By: Luca
  55. September 19, 2011, 9:36 am

    FYI: aircrafts like this can only retract the main landing gear… and the cockpit window is translucent, so the brightness of the background overlaps the small head of the pilot. simple if u know wat ur talking bout…

    By: uzipanti@gmail.com
  56. September 19, 2011, 11:04 am

    I can't believe the system is censoring the word "cockpit." That's pretty cockeyed, wouldn't you say?

    By: jimddddd
  57. September 19, 2011, 12:08 pm

    In picture 13 there is something orange and white up in the upper right hand corner. Is that the pilot's parachute? It's on the ground in picture 14. And in #11, there are a couple of guys on a wooden structure out on the course, judges perhaps? Were they ok?

    By: matt@uscoles.com
  58. September 19, 2011, 12:54 pm

    It's a racer, the tail wheel would have to retract! If the tail wheel is fixed, why does it appear to have doors extended too? I can visualize fixed tail wheels such as the ones on the Spitfire or the Bf109. This does not appear to be configured as such.

    By: sss
  59. September 19, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I think he extended the tail to add some wighet to the tail not dive with nose down so he was trying to adjust the dive (my opinion)

    By: sherif raouf
  60. September 19, 2011, 4:38 pm

    It's a big middle finger to the rest of us is what it is. It's the elite saying, "we can do what we want. " We'll stage a crash and include a photo of plane with no pilot. That's exactly what it is. Once you look at all the information, you'll see what I mean. Don't discount what I'm saying because you think it's ridiculous.

    By: aanaa
  61. September 19, 2011, 4:44 pm

    Can somebody please explain to me if Mr. Obrien is taking credit for all the dive photos, if so how can he possibly get photos of both sides of an airplane in a steep 500 mph dive…..just curious

    By: ddntamale@aol.com
  62. September 19, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I see now different photographers with credit. I am still unable to completely comprehend why there is absolutely no evidence of the pilots helmet in the photos. Just baffling to me. Am truly amazed at the video footage thats been released. Prayers to all those affected by this.

    By: ddntamale@aol.com
  63. September 19, 2011, 5:56 pm

    NOTHING is photoshopped in this image. The pilot (now weighing close to 2000 pounds!) is bent forward below the canopy window and probably blacked out. They sit low in these planes anyway, just look at one of the pictures available on the net of a pilot sitting in the plane on the ground… quite low.. Also, this aircraft did not have a 5-point harness holding him aft in the seat. My brother is a friend of Leeward's and has been on this aircraft and specifically told me this. Race pilots desperately need to look left and right during races and can't be held against the seat.

    By: denbuss
  64. September 19, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Read the posts! A previous submission clearly shows that same plane in flight with a retracted tail wheel.

    By: denbuss
  65. September 19, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Nonsense… the loss of a trim tab at 400+mph would cause a violent pitch-up that would render the pilot motionless. That is clearly explained in some posts above.

    By: denbuss
  66. September 20, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Is it possible that the pilot’s seat snapped and fell back into the rear of the cockpit, causing the pilot to pull back on the controls which caused the plain to loop up and then straight down like it did? This might also explain why we can’t see the pilot’s head in the photos

    By: John Smith
  67. September 20, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Any pilot of this caliber knows to pull up hard if he experiences flutter. The pull-up loads the control surfaces and can stop flutter before the surface fails. Sometimes it works and sometimes the pull-up isn't quick enough before failure. I suspect he did everything right, hard pull-up, and when the roll started he decided to bail out, harness had been released and he was leaning low in the c0ckpit attempting to eject—-not enough time.

    By: benduarte@yahoo.com
  68. September 21, 2011, 2:04 pm

    I saw the plane pass by from the west end of the runway and it was a smooth pull up and roll to the right. Nothing about it looked as it was sharply or jerky pull up.

    By: flyrrbill@yahoo.com
  69. September 21, 2011, 2:32 pm

    There is no ejection seat in a P-51 Mustang. That didn't come about until jets.

    By: flyrrbill@yahoo.com
  70. September 21, 2011, 4:23 pm

    This "Hidiously Engineered Beast" as you call it is/was neither hidious nor a beast. If you talk to any WW2 P-51 type-rated pilots, they will all tell you that the P-51 Mustang was one of the best flying and manuverable aircraft ever built (in tha era) and the Rolls-Royce "Merlin" engine was one of the finest aircraft engines ever built. The marriage of the airframe and engine was one factor that turned the tables in the air war over Europe. I am a former commercial aircraft tech, and you can rest assured that this airplane has been disassembled and reassembled with the finest engineering possible at the crews disposal. These types of aircraft are not something that can be worked on by your average everyday mechanic. The training and experience required to perform this kind of work takes years of passionate dedication. Please donot assume to know the caliber of the people who maintain any type of aircraft. Their integrity is IMPECABLE!

    By: snksknz@msn.com
  71. September 21, 2011, 5:33 pm

    [...] Reno air show crash kills nine people – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the … Baswell ,read some the comments If the photo of the plane pointed down just before impact is real I will be very surprised. If you look at other photos of this plane in flight (on the pilots web site, for example) in EVERY photo you can see the pilot's helmet. Even if he had a heart attack and died he would be leaning up against the glass. There is nowhere for him to be. Plus to get this angle the photographer would have to have been far away from the stands with a very powerful telephoto lens. It is perfectly from the side with no blur whatsoever. He probably could not have gotten the other photo of the plane upside down from the same location. I also searched for "Times Valley Union" and did not find any news organization with Tim O'Brien as a photographer. [...]

  72. September 21, 2011, 7:32 pm

    Don't need the lesson in P-51s. This thing was taken from a reliable, well engineered aircraft manufacture's design and hideously "re"-engineered into something it was never intended for. It ceased being a P-51 decades ago and the praise that all P-51s deserve no longer applied to it.
    In the pilot's own words, then:
    Before he died, Leeward had said the changes made the P-51 Mustang faster and more manoeuvrable, but in the months before Friday's crash even he wasn't certain exactly how it would perform.
    'I know it'll do the speed,' he said in a podcast uploaded to YouTube in June. 'The systems aren't proven yet. We think they're going to be OK.'
    In the podcast he called the alterations 'extremely radical'.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————-
    (NOTE the words … "extremely radical")

    There were doubts about this a/c by the pilot/owner's own admission.

    By: regis49
  73. September 22, 2011, 10:43 am

    I didn't say there was an ejection seat. Eject means getting out. I don't know what the proceedure to release the canopy or whatever else needs to be done to eject in a P51. Bending down doing something to facilitate the process would account for the pilot not being in view.

    By: benduarte@yahoo.com
  74. September 23, 2011, 12:10 am

    Check out the photos of Jimmy Leeward's mustang on his own site… The rear, or tail, wheel is up or not extended or not down on the photos Jimmy has on his web page… http://www2.leewardairranch.com/racing
    I think that is a GOOD point… Why was the rear tail wheel extended or open or in a down position???

    By: Joe
  75. September 28, 2011, 5:31 am

    Wrongo. The tail wheel does retract. You can see it in the take-off video.

    By: Frank
  76. September 28, 2011, 5:44 am

    Which you clearly don't.

    By: Frank
  77. April 14, 2012, 2:33 pm

    he was To OLD but 99.99% of you can't face your EGO

    By: rifleman@pacbell.net

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