Air Force, News A-10, A-10 aircraft, A-10 contract, A-10 contract delay, A-10 delay, A-10 ground attack jet, A-10 program, A-10 warthog, A-10A Thunderbolt, A10 Warthog, Boeing, Boeing A-10 delay, Boeing A-10 Warthog, Boeing contract delay, Forrest Gossett, U.S. Air Force’s ground attack jet, U.S. Senate, U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, USAF A-10, Warthog
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has cut funding for the $2 billion contract to build to rewing the A-10 after Boeing incurred a 10-month delay.
The program is supposed to extend the life of the U.S. Air Force’s ground attack jet, the A-10 Warthog, according to the service. The Senate Appropriations Committee cited problems and unspent prior funding when it entirely cut the Air Force’s $145 million fiscal 2012 request for the program.
The A-10 program has experienced “significant delays and has not delivered a new wing” since the program began procurement in fiscal 2010, the committee wrote in a Sept. 16 report accompanying its fiscal 2012 budget.
Boeing spokesman Forrest Gossett said the company has put in place a “recovery plan”.
“We experienced issues during the initial manufacturing of the program,” Gossett said in an e-mail. The first A-10 wing was delivered “with no major deficiencies but there were items to work through as would be expected with any development program.”
“Boeing has worked with the Air Force to create a recovery plan and the program is on target to deliver the first of four new wings” before Oct. 31, Gossett said.
The new wings are needed to extend the life of the A-10 aircraft, some of which have been in use since 1975 after previous modifications. The new wings will keep the A-10s flying until about 2030 at a lower cost than buying new aircraft, according to the Air Force.
The Senate committee cut the Air Force’s entire $145 million request because the delays meant little of the $351 million in A-10 wing money appropriated since fiscal 2010 has been spent, according to service figures.
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MOODY AIR FORCE BASE — An Air Force A-10C pilot assigned to the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base ejected from the aircraft moments before it crashed during a routine mission at approximately 2:45 p.m. Monday in a non-residential area in Cook County.
The pilot was transported by ambulance to Memorial Hospital of Adel for medical evaluation.
Moody and Cook County emergency response personnel were dispatched and proceeded to the accident scene, where reportedly the aircraft and surrounding area were burning.
Area resident Dale Warlick lives nearby and gave his account of the accident.
“I’m wondering if it was a bolt of lightning or something. I was in my house when I heard the pop and ran out and saw the plane,” said Warlick. “He was low flying at the time. I knew the plane was going down but thought there wasn’t any good spot for him to land back there (behind his house). ”
Another nearby resident, Larry Taylor, rode out on a golf cart with his nephew to check on the accident.
When Taylor and his nephew arrived on the scene, an ambulance was already present, along with law enforcement officials. He said the pilot was in a small clearing in what used to be a Scruggs Concrete Inc. sandpit with his parachute lying at his feet. Taylor ended up transporting the pilot and emergency staffers back to the main road in his golf cart.
“(The pilot) said that both engines quit; he said he coasted for two miles apparently,” said Taylor. “He seemed shaken up, but was laughing and carrying on. He was shaken up, but that seemed natural considering what happened.”
According to Taylor, the A-10‘s wingmate circled the crash site for about an hour at low speed and low altitude. Taylor said he could see the pilot in the cockpit while he circled.
The incident is still under investigation.
Col. Billy D. Thompson, commander of the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, provided a few scant details during a press conference Monday at approximately 8:25 p.m.
According to Thompson, the pilot is in stable condition and is currently located at the MAFB Flight Clinic.
“Over the next few weeks, a trained safety investigation board will focus their exclusive efforts on collecting and protecting evidence from the scene, gathering and analyzing all relevant data with the specific purpose of preventing future mishaps,” said Thompson. “As commander of this wing, the safety of the local community and our airmen is one of my top priorities.”
The name of the pilot has not been released in order to preserve the interests of the family, Thompson said.
Thompson confirmed that there were two aircraft units, although he did not clarify specifics on the location or whether an explosion or fire was involved with the incident. He also failed to disclose information about the cost of the aircraft, whether the aircraft would be salvageable or when press would be allowed to photograph the scene.
Thompson also claimed to have no information about the training of the pilot or whether a distress call was made. He also said he had no information about the pilot’s medical condition, nor did he release any information about the mission of the pilot.
“We do as part of the initial response, we have environmental officers from Moody Air Force Base that will assess the site and make a recommendation on that,” said Thompson. “The final report should take 60 days; really don’t know how long cleanup could take.”
“I do not know where the aircraft’s at,” said Thompson. “The A-10, as a whole, is a highly reliable aircraft. The A-10 is a wonderfully reliable aircraft. All of our aircraft are obviously inspected before each flight, but I don’t have any further data at this point.”
Air Force, News block 50/52 F-16 aircraft, f-16, F-16 aircraft, F-16 block 50/52, F-16 deal, F-16 fighter aircraft, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-16 sale, F-16C, F-16C Fighter jets, F-16C Fighting Falcons, F-16C/D fighter, Fighting Falcon, Foreign Military Sales, George Little, Iraq F-16, Lockheed Martin F-16, Pentagon Press Secretary, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said on Sept 27th that the Iraqi government has transferred its first payment for 18 F-16C Fighting Falcons. This brings Iraq closer to independently securing its airspace.
“These aircraft will help provide air sovereignty for Iraq to protect its own territory and deter or counter regional threats,” Little said.
The F-16 fighter aircraft, he said, “are also a symbol of the commitment to a long-term strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.”
According to Little, the F-16s are the block 50/52 variant of the aircraft – the current production version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The sale is valued at about $3 billion. Such foreign military sales will be a cornerstone of future cooperation and support the development of a long-term cooperative security relationship with Iraq.
“Foreign military sales around the world, such as this purchase of F-16 aircraft,” the press secretary said, “strengthen our diplomatic and military relationships with our allies and supports American industry and jobs at home.”
The United States conducts foreign military sales with Iraq and fully supports Iraq’s efforts to purchase military equipment in line with its domestic spending priorities and in accordance with its budget laws and procedures, Little added.
Source: U.S. Air Force
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Canada’s Defense Minister Peter MacKay says buying surplus American aircraft will boost the availability of Canada’s beleaguered Cormorant helicopters.
His comments came Wednesday as more questions were raised about how often the Canada’s 14 front-line search-and-rescue helicopters are in the shop.
Defense planners are also paying more attention to a controversial U.S. tilt-wing aircraft, seen as a possible magic-bullet replacement.
Canada’s National Defense spent $164 million this summer buying leftovers from Washington’s cancelled VH-71 presidential helicopter program, an updated version of CH-149 Cormorants.
A briefing note to MacKay warned last year that the Cormorant’s availability is “barely adequate” to meet search-and-rescue requirements, requiring aging Sea King helicopters to be put on standby along the East Coast to replace them.
“Since its introduction in 2001, the Cormorant fleet has been plagued by parts availability and technical support problems, significantly reducing its mission readiness for both training and operations,” said the Sept. 1, 2010, briefing, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information.
The report warned of “extended periods” when the search helicopter, purchased by the Liberals, would be unavailable along the East Coast.
One possible solution under serious consideration is the purchase of Bell-Boeing’s V-22 Osprey, which could fill the gap in not only helicopter operations, but with the country’s aging fixed-wing search planes that the government has been trying to replace for a decade.
The Osprey, which had a series of spectacular crashes in the developmental stage, is expensive at almost US$67 million per aircraft. It is currently flown by U.S. marines.
The Conservative government sent the company a letter of interest in late 2009, according to defence sources.
In the meantime, the air force has plugged along, trying to keep the Cormorants flying. Its availability rate has often dipped below 40 per cent, according to the documents.
The Defense Department did not answer questions about the Cormorant’s service record and is now refusing to conduct any interviews about the aircraft, especially where it relates to its primary search-and-rescue role.
A second Defense Department briefing, also obtained by The Canadian Press, says using spares from cannibalized U.S. helicopters will allow Cormorant maintainers to stop robbing their own aircraft of parts to keep the fleet in the air.
New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris says the U.S. choppers, which include nine airframes and spare parts, should be upgraded to flying condition and added to Canada’s rescue fleet.
“They could easily reconfigure these helicopters for search and rescue,” he said Wednesday.
But the internal analysis of the purchase suggested it would be a lot of work to bring the mothballed aircraft up to standard.
“The nine assembled spares (airframes) have no valid airworthiness certificates and do not meet the minimum equipment configuration required to employed as a SAR helicopter without modifications,” said the Oct. 29, 2010, briefing.
A former squadron commander said purchasing Ospreys means the air force could do with one aircraft as opposed to two.
“In search and rescue, you’re always left the requirement to land as close as possible to the crash site even after you’ve pushed a couple of Sartechs (search and rescue technicians) out the back of the Hercules (transport plane),” said Dean Black, a retired lieutenant-colonel.
“There’s still the requirement to get down there. That requires some sort of vertical take off and landing capability.”
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Iraq has signed a contract to buy 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 warplanes to bolster its air force, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday.
The value of the F-16 deal was not immediately known, but a senior U.S. military official said recently the offer on the table for the Iraqi government was valued at “roughly $3 billion.”Lockheed said in a statement it looked forward to a partnership with Baghdad and was “pleased with the confidence Iraq places in our products.” It declined to comment on the specifics of the deal, referring questions to the Iraqi and U.S. governments.
“The F-16 contract was signed … and a part of the contract cost was sent to the bank account of the company,” said Maliki’s media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi.
Iraq has long sought F-16 combat jet for its rebuilt air force. The government delayed a planned purchase of F-16s in February to divert a $900 million down payment to its national food ration program to help quell street protests.
Maliki said on July 30 Iraq would buy 36 F-16s, double the number it had originally planned, to shore up its weak air defenses. The OPEC producer has found itself flush with cash this year, reaping windfall profits as world oil prices have remained above budget projections.
Iraq is relying on the U.S. military for air support as it rebuilds its forces and battles a stubborn Islamist insurgency. Washington and Baghdad are discussing whether to keep some U.S. troops or military trainers in Iraq beyond the year-end deadline for U.S. departure.
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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE — When 1st Lt. Daniel Welch arrived at Minot Air Force Base in January, he became part of the same squadron his grandfather commanded in the 1970s.
That squadron is the 23rd Bomb Squadron, a unit of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB.
Welch, a B-52 co-pilot, is keeping up his family’s tradition as a B-52 Stratofortress flight officer.
Both his grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, of Sacramento, Calif., and his father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, of Las Vegas, were B-52 aviators.
Welch was one of the speakers Aug. 19 when the base held “Peace Persuader Day” to celebrate the arrival of the first B-52 bomber at the base 50 years ago. The day was named for that first plane. The first B-52 arrived July 16, 1961, but the ceremony was postponed until August because of the flood in Minot.
When he was asked to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration, Welch said he asked himself, “What have I done to be given this opportunity besides being born into a B-52 family of aviators?”
Since he has just begun his career as a B-52 aviator, he chose to honor his grandfather and his father by telling a few of their experiences as well as about his grandmother and mother.
Welch said his grandfather grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was commissioned by ROTC. He went to Maxwell AFB, Ala., for additional training, where he met Daniel’s grandmother, Marion.
“At the time that they met, my grandmother was an Air Force nurse. She outranked him and he had to salute her. To this day, we still give him a hard time for that,” Welch said.
Daniel’s grandfather attended pilot training in Texas. After graduation he went on to fly the F-86 Saber, the B-47 and then “the mighty B-52,” his grandson said. “He’s flown every model from the A model up to the H model.”
Sprague flew combat missions in Vietnam. As a result of one of those missions over North Vietnam, he became a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, his grandson said.
Sprague returned from Vietnam and was assigned to Minot AFB in the early 1970s “where he became the squadron commander of my current squadron, the 23rd Bomber Barons,” Welch said.
Welch said he felt it was pretty amazing when he looked through squadron history books and came across a picture of his grandfather and some of the news articles he was in while his grandfather was at the Minot base.
Sprague then was assigned to Mather AFB, Calif., where he became the wing commander. “That’s where my father walked into the picture,” Welch said.
The senior Welch had just been commissioned by ROTC. “My mother (Diane) was working at the base pool as a lifeguard. I’ve got to give my dad some credit for having the guts to date the wing commander’s daughter,” the lieutenant said.
Shortly after his parents got married, they were assigned to Guam in the early 1980s. “Sitting nuclear alert was part of the B-52 crews’ lifestyle,” Welch said. He said his father tells about the crews being at the base exchange with their families when suddenly they were notified. They would leave their families and run out the door to respond to their aircraft, not knowing if it was the real thing or a drill, Welch said. His father retired from the Air Force after 22 years.
“Growing up with my grandfather and father as role models made it pretty easy to decide that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation,” Welch said.
“I was able to realize that dream after I attended pilot training after my graduation from the Air Force Academy in 2008,” he said.
Welch was commissioned in 2008 and graduated from pilot training in December 2009. He started flying the B-52 in March 2010 at Barksdale AFB, La., and arrived at Minot AFB in January of this year.
Welch said he looks forward to the challenges and experiences that are sure to present themselves just as they presented themselves to generations before him.
But he pointed out that he would be remiss if he didn’t mention “the glue” that has held the three generations of bomber crews together: his mother.
“As a daughter she endured Christmases and holidays away with her father being deployed; as a wife she endured time without her husband,” he said.
Welch said it appears he will be deployed over the holiday season. “She’s a proud B-52 mother,” he added.
If he has a youngster someday, Welch said maybe there will be a fourth generation B-52 aircrew member.
AV-8B, av-8b harrier, AV-8B Harrier jump jet, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, F-16 C/D, F-16 C/D jets, F-16 deal, F-16 jets, F-16 purchase, F-16C/D, F-35B, F-35B JSF, F-35B STOVL, F-35B vertical-takeoff version, f16 falcon, George Little, Obama administration, Pentagon spokesman, Robert M. Gates, Taiwan F-16 sale, Taiwan-China
The White House turned down the sale of F-16 C/D jets because of concerns that the sale would upset relations with China more than a sale to upgrade older jets, the officials said.
The Obama administration is expected to announce as early as Wednesday the sale of a package of equipment and weapons worth $5.8 billion to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 145 F-16 jets. In agreeing to the upgrades, President Obama and White House officials rejected a proposal sought by some in the administration to offer Taiwan66 new and more advanced F-16 C/D jets.
Administration officials briefed Congress on the deal Friday and are defending the decision not to sell new jets by asserting that the upgrades will give modernized Taiwanese F-16s a “near C/D” capability.
A congressional military specialist, however, said the expected arms package will be insufficient in bolstering Taiwan’s air power. In addition to announcing the Taiwanese military upgrade, the Pentagonthis week will release a congressional mandated study on Taiwan’s air power.
The study concludes that Taiwan’s military should buy short-takeoff and vertical-landing jets such as the British-design AV-8B Harrier jump jet or the new F-35B vertical-takeoff version, according to the officials familiar with the aircraft.That conclusion was based on anticipated Chinese missile strikes against Taiwanese airfields with cratering munitions that would thwart takeoffs by F-16s and other jets.
A defense official said that conclusion appears skewed to support the administration’s decision not to sell new F-16s by highlighting airstrip vulnerability.
The Obama administration has been seeking closer military ties to China. In January, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates proposed holding talks on nuclear weapons, missile defenses, cyberwarfare and space. A Chinese general promised to study the proposal.
Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the pending arms sale. He said U.S. arms-sale policy is based on the three joint communiques with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.
On military ties, Mr. Little said: “From our perspective, we have made progress in our dialogue as we work toward a healthy, stable and reliable and continuous military-to-military relationship.”
Source: The Washington Times
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It’s been be 11 years since a V-22 Osprey plunged to the earth in Marana, Ariz., killing its two pilots and the 17 other Marines aboard, and a Jacksonville military widow believes she may finally be close to setting the history books straight regarding the tragedy.
The doomed flight of April 8, 2000, began as a night training exercise near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, with two V-22s conducting non-combat maneuvers. Though the aircraft was still in early stages of use by the military and by the crews aboard, the flight went smoothly, up until the point that the following Osprey, codenamed Nighthawk 72, attempted to land at the nearby Marana Airport. With the lead Osprey descending quickly from much higher than planned, the following aircraft found itself in rotor stall, its pilots apparently unable to control its final descent. Veering right, the Osprey crashed into the ground in a fiery explosion.
Though the event was an unthinkable tragedy for the loved ones of all aboard, another moment of horror was in store for the widows of the V-22‘s pilots, Maj. Brooks Gruber and Lt. Col. John Brow, when results of an investigation into the incident were made public several months later. While the Judge Advocate General Manual Report was more nuanced, a press release from the Marine Corps summarizing the findings announced that a combination of human and other factors had caused the crash, with the chain of events leading to the Osprey’s fate involving deviations from the scheduled flight plan and the rapid rate of descent.
In the release, then-Marine commandant Gen. James L. Jones issued a statement backing the findings.
“The tragedy is that these were all good Marines joined in a challenging mission,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the pilots’ drive to accomplish that mission appears to have been the fatal factor.”
Immediately, media reports broadcast to the world that pilot error had caused the fatal crash, a conclusion that widows Connie Gruber and Trish Brow instantly and vehemently contested.
“It was a rude awakening for me, and I knew right then and there that whatever information released to the media to imply this accusation was false; and I intended from that day forward to do whatever necessary to protect my husband’s professional reputation and guarantee him the honor he and his comrades so deserved,” Gruber told The Daily News.
She appeared on 60 Minutes soon after the crash, saying that Maj. Gruber had been pulled into the role of test pilot, operating an aircraft about which much still was unknown. She has since reaffirmed her belief in a variety of media interviews that her husband was not to blame. In 2009, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who promised to assist Gruber after meeting her at a memorial service soon after the crash, introduced a House resolution absolving the pilots of guilt for the record and blaming the crash instead on Vortex Ring State, a stalled condition to which the Osprey was particularly prone and for which the pilots were not adequately trained.
While the resolution died in committee, new voices have surfaced in recent months to give credence to these claims. Between June and July, Jones received letters from each of the three Marine investigators who had been responsible for establishing findings from the Marana crash. For the cause, the reports were heartening.
Then-Lt. Col. Michael Morgan, the lead investigator, wrote to Jones that no ambiguity should remain in records of the incident.
“In my opinion … John Brown and Brooks Gruber performed as model wingmen on this mission. They were doing exactly what is expected of wingmen on a tactical flight,” he wrote.
In summary, Morgan said he looked forward to the day when Defense officials accurately recognized the pilots’ sacrifice.
Then-Lt. Col. Ronald Radich wrote to say the crash had served to highlight the hazards of VRS, then a little-known phenomenon, even in the aviation community.
But for the sacrifice of the 19 Marines, he wrote, “the highly adverse effects of V-22 VRS would have continued to remain dominant … For the price the crew and passengers paid to discover this, it would be morally wrong to place the blame on the pilots of Nighthawk 72.”
Phillip Stackhouse, then a captain, wrote to say that blame was never intended to be set at the feet of the aircraft’s pilots.
“For any record that reflects the mishap was a result of pilot error, it should be corrected,” he said. “For any publication that reflects the mishap was a result of pilot error, it should be corrected and recanted.”
Stackhouse, now a military defense attorney in Jacksonville, told The Daily News the point had been clear from the conclusion of the investigation.
“From my perspective, it was never my intent with the command investigation to place blame on the pilots with the mishap,” he said.
Though Navy Secretary Ray Mabus issued a clarification for Maj. Gruber’s file stating that “no single action by any single pilot would necessarily have caused the mishap; it was not necessarily pilot error,” Jones said the wording does not satisfy.
“The family would like one of two things: an amendment or addendum to the JAGMAN report or a public declaration from the commandant of the Marine Corps or secretary of the Navy stating that the two pilots were not at fault,” he said.
Jones is now working to gain support for a new legislative effort to establish the pilots’ innocence.
For Gruber, the new support may mean some light at the end of a decade-long tunnel for her, her 11-year-old daughter Brooke and the Brow family, as well as a chance to see the pilots’ legacy rightly honored.
“I’m very optimistic,” she said. “After all this time, it is time that it be corrected. We’re not going to give up at this point.
“We’ve been involved too long now to just let it go.”
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The Boeing Company and the U.S. Army celebrated the opening of the newly renovated CH-47 Chinook manufacturing facility last Wednesday, Sept.21. The event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the CH-47 Chinook’s first flight.
“Boeing has made a $130 million investment to create a world-leading aircraft manufacturing facility to support continuing U.S. and international demand for the unmatched vertical lift capabilities of the Chinook,” said Jean Chamberlin, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Ridley Township-based Mobility division.
Chamberlin said the upgraded facility will allow Boeing to increase production and work toward securing a second CH-47F multi-year contract.
The factory renovations will allow Boeing to increase Chinook production rates to six aircraft per month, up from the current rate of four per month. The modern facility offers enhanced employee safety and comfort, lower operating costs and reduced environmental impact. The new facility is one of three Boeing facilities recognized for zero waste contribution to landfill.
“The CH-47F is proving its exceptional capabilities every day in combat operations,” said U.S. Army Col. Bob Marion, project manager for Cargo Helicopters. “The technological advantages and improvements in the CH-47F are powerful combat multipliers that save soldiers’ lives and support overall contingency operations in theater.”
“ I am extremely proud of the Chinook team on this milestone 50-year achievement.”
Source: Aviation News
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The veteran aviator whose P-51 Mustang plane slammed into a crowd of Nevada air race spectators at 400 mph had no chance to save his ill-fated flight after likely losing consciousness from acceleration more abrupt and extreme than even what most fighter pilots endure, flying experts said.
Jimmy Leeward’s Mustang aircraft shot skyward like a rocket Friday before plunging into spectators at what appeared to be full throttle. Federal investigators continue to look for a cause of the crash at the National Championship Air Races that killed 11 people, including Leeward, and injured dozens, but have yet to come to a conclusion, something that could take months.
They’re focused on a range of possibilities, including Leeward’s health and the structural soundness of the plane after a piece of the tail called the “elevator trim tab” that helps control the aircraft’s pitch appeared to break off before the crash.
While some have called Leeward heroic for making a last-ditch maneuver around crowded stands, experts who have reviewed multiple amateur videos from the scene, photographs and witness accounts, doubt that theory. They say it appears Leeward wasn’t controlling the plane during the fateful last few seconds.
“He’s not there. He’s unconscious,” said Ernie Christensen, a retired rear admiral and former Vietnam fighter pilot who commanded the Navy’s Top Gun fighter school for a time in the 1980s.
Christensen said one key clue that Leeward wasn’t at the controls is the fact that his highly modified P-51 Mustang appeared to hit the ground at full throttle.
“The first thing you do when you get into those conditions is pull power, and that plane hit fast,” he said. “The power was up and that’s an indication he was not in control of the airplane when it hit.”
Leeward was midway through the Unlimited Gold heat race Friday when he narrowly missed the grandstands packed with fans and jerked into a steep climb at up to 500 mph, streaking skyward possibly a thousand feet or more before twirling and speeding into the ground.
Friday’s crash was the nation’s deadliest air racing disaster, with 11 confirmed dead and 14 others still being treated at Reno hospitals. In all, more than 70 people were admitted for injuries after the crashing plane sprayed shrapnel into the crowd of spectators, cutting limbs and other body parts.
Twenty pilots, including Leeward, have died at the races over the past 47 years, but this was the first time fans were killed.
Christensen said if Leeward were conscious, he would have cut power back once he gained altitude.
“Altitude is sanctuary,” he said.
“And his nose didn’t hang, it came over like he was doing almost a loop … and when his nose came down he started gaining air speed,” Christensen added. “This guy had the power up.”
Rough calculations by experts using video of the P-51 plane seconds before the crash indicate it might have been traveling at more than 400 mph when it suddenly went vertical, abruptly exerting 11 times the normal force of gravity on the pilot’s body, or 11 Gs, knocking him unconscious as the blood rushed from his brain.
By comparison, Christensen said, F-16 fighter pilots, who wear special suits to counter the G-forces, can typically take 9 Gs, but only for a limited time. And those are modern planes designed with tilted seats intended to help keep blood flow to the brain.
Average roller coasters expose riders to about 2 to 3 Gs, but only for brief moments.
Ken Liano, a structural engineer and aircraft consultant, said “it’s highly doubtful” Leeward was awake.
“My first thought when I saw the video was there’s no way that pilot is in control,” Liano said. “He went from horizontal to vertical so abruptly. No pilot would do that. Even an acrobatic pilot would probably not do that maneuver.”
Liano speculated the loss of the trim tab started the sequence of events. Leeward’s World War II-era plane was highly modified for speed, much like other aircraft at the races. But the plane wasn’t originally designed that way, so the extra speed gained from the modifications likely stressed the structure, causing the failure, he said.
“Eleven Gs is a lot,” said Dr. Daniel Foster, an active duty flight surgeon at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. “It probably would have been very difficult for him to maintain consciousness.”
He said fighter pilots train to combat the G-forces using abdominal exercises, among other things, to keep the blood in their heads.
Typically, as the forces increase, Foster said, symptoms will gradually appear, such as nausea, faintness, then cloudy vision, and there’s time to work to counteract the impact on the body.
But if the extreme acceleration comes on suddenly, and is prolonged, such as the case with Leeward, “it can be very rapid,” Foster said. “You’d go from zero to unconscious.”