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Reno Air Race Crash - Some facts and some BS

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titaniumsalute Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-19-11 08:44 PM
Original message
Reno Air Race Crash - Some facts and some BS
Edited on Mon Sep-19-11 09:12 PM by titaniumsalute
I've been a pilot for many years. I'm not a comemrcial pilot but I have flown many types of aircraft. I used to fly an Extra 300 stunt plane and some other very high performance planes. I read all of these "theories" from various blogs about what happened. The answer is we really don't know much of anything.

One rule of thumb in flying is that if one thing goes wrong you can usually correct it. If two things go wrong you can most likely correct it but you really need to focus on priorities and a solution to each problem. If three things go wrong you really strat to have some major problems.

We don't know if one thing or a host of things went wrong. It is certain that the trim tab (small piece of the elevator that is used to fine-tune the straight flight altitude adjustments) was detached and no longer on the plane before it crashed. I have read that controlling the elevator (done with the pilot's hands through controls) would be easy after the trim tab malfunstioned and detached from the plane. Well that is easy to say if you are flying straight and level at an 8,000 ft altitude with a constant speed. Yes, if the elevator trim fell off of a Cessna 172 or 182 (or something similar) it would be fairly easy to overcome.

As a pilot who has experienced low-level altitude flying at high speeds of rate I can tell you that a small variable, such as a trim tab malfunction, can be a major crisis. At 400 - 500 knots at 300 ft AGL (above ground level altitude) a small "problem" is a major problem.

In addition, I have seen the photos of the pilot that seems to be "missing" from the cockpit. While in a "normal" P-51 you can see a seated pilot many air race and other high performance planes you have a more horizontal seating within the plane. I've flown Lanceair Planes where you nearly lay down in the seats. All you can see is the top of my head while rolling down a runway. It is possible at 74 there could have been a health emergency with the pilot. That doesn't explain the trim tab situation but if two things combined at the same time it could be very bad at such high speeds and low altitude.

Last, we can analyze this stuff to death. In the world I have come to realize that stuff just "happens." It is very sad to see people die but that is a risk you take when you go to things like airshows, boat shows, race tracks, fireworks, etc.
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rsmith6621 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-19-11 08:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'll Wait For The NTSB

...findings,I have patients.... I am also a PP and an unemployed flight dispatcher.
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bullwinkle428 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-19-11 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
2. Is the Extra 300 the type of aircraft that competes in the Red Bull
air race series?

I've been thinking about the possibility of medical situation with Leeward, and that he may very well have been no more than an unconscious passenger in a deadly missile over the final seconds of that flight.
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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-19-11 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
3. Could the G-forces in those type of aircraft been too stressful for an older pilot?
I know little about high-speed flying...
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titaniumsalute Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-20-11 07:18 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Yes
Edited on Tue Sep-20-11 07:19 AM by titaniumsalute
G - forces are weird. When you first experience them it is really not fun feelings. You learn how to "deal" with them until they become second nature therefore when you are flying stunts you don't think of the forces...just completing the stunt. I personally never really liked the experience of the G-s and always felt like it was so unnatural that I didn't like doing it to my body. I only stunt flew for about 2 years and decided going home to my kids was more important than my hobby.
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EnviroBat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-20-11 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I've experienced effects of G's in a Cessna 152.
Just doing a few tight turns in basically a Volkswagen with wings was enough to make the blood leave my head for a few seconds. I've always admired you guys that can fly an Extra or a Pitts. I can't imagine how intense some of those maneuvers must be. I never did any snap-rolls in a Cessna, that would have torn the wings off. But I will admit that spin awareness flight training was a riot that no roller-coaster can come close to.
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pa28 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-19-11 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. Yeah, I think more than one factor is at work here.
Edited on Mon Sep-19-11 09:43 PM by pa28
I'm also a private pilot and I developed the habit of looking at accidents and accident reports. Usually you can tell what happened before the report comes out but it seems like there might be additional circumstances at work here.

A trim tab stuck at a weird angle or one missing entirely might be a very big deal at that speed and altitude but I'm still skeptical of the idea a trim tab alone could have caused this accident. I can only recall a few cases where mechanical or structural failure was cited as the only cause so maybe this is a good time to shrug our shoulders and wait for the report.

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