Aviation News Air Races Reno, aviation, Galloping Ghost, Jimmy Leeward, Model Jet, Model Jet Airplanes, National Championship Air Races 2011, p-51, P-51 Crash, P-51 Mustang Warplane, Reno Air Races, Reno Nevada Air Show, Reno Plane Crash September 2011, warplanes, WWII Era P-51 Mustang 1 Comment
Eight people died together with Jimmy Leeward, 74, pilot of the vintage P-51 Mustang warplane during the horrible crash at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada air show last September 2011. A total of 54 people were reported injured says Reno Air Races President and CEO, Mike Houghton.
The WWII-era P-51 Mustang crashed into the VIP box-seat of the grandstand where two more spectators also died during the incident. The model jet airplane was already on its third lap during the gold heat race when it lost control.
Houghton says “He (Leeward) was only 74. Uh, all of his medical records and everything were up to date, spot-on, uh, and Jimmy was a very experienced and, uh, talented, qualified pilot”. But what caused the wreck appeared that there was a “problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control.” Houghton added.
Kim Fonda recalls the plane crash as she was seated at the grandstand seeing the plane hustling towards their direction, saying “I am going to die now” As she closed her eyes and literally was preparing to die and that was when the pilot jerked the plane away from the grandstand and crashed like 25 feet away from them. Fonda wanted to let Leeward’s family know that he was a hero.
Mr. Leeward was hailed as a hero after steering the doomed aircraft away from the grandstand and at the same time, saving the lives of hundred. It is a thought he suffered a mechanical failure in the air.
“I think that pilot in the last seconds pulled up because he saw the bleachers and saved about 200 or 300 others,” Ben Cissell one of the witnesses during the crash told CNN.
Maureen Higgins of Alabama who has been coming to the show for 16 years said she was just sitting about 30 yards away from the crash stood in horror as the man in front of her started bleeding after pieces of debris from the aircraft hit him in the head.
A total of 27 people were admitted to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno. While 25 patients were sent to Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and 8 other patients were reportedly brought to the Northern Nevada Medical Center.