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Author Topic: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races  (Read 15615 times)

Shannon Council

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2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« on: September 17, 2011, 12:23:13 AM »

From IMDB :

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0498812/

The air races are actually held north of here ( Reno ) near the Stead Airport, in the town that Bill Lear ( inventor of the 8-track tape and Lear Jet ) lived for a while.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stead_Air_Force_Base
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Lear

LTM
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2011, 07:51:05 AM »

Leeward lost control of his P-51 racer, "Galloping Ghost," and crashed into a grandstand at the Reno Air Races.

Very sad story.
LTM,

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Ricker H Jones

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2011, 09:27:19 AM »

I wonder if Leeward had blacked out.  Looks like he may have slumped out of sight in this photo.


Rick J
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 07:18:26 PM by Ricker H Jones »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 06:12:40 PM »

Look closely at the photo.  The elevator trim tab is missing.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2011, 07:26:57 AM »

A real tragedy, nine dead now and nine in critical condition as of this morning. My prayers are with the families affected.

I do have a separate question, though - Why is the tail wheel down? It would not be for the race, I would think, because that would create drag. I wonder if that has something to do with the accident? Looking at my schematic for the rear interior of a Mustang, there's lots of control cable runs and whatnot crammed into a fairly small area.

LTM,
Monty Fowler
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« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 07:39:03 AM by Monty Fowler »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 08:35:13 AM »

Why is the tail wheel down?

Good question.  It's hard to relate the failed trim tab to an extended tail wheel.  As you say, there is no reason for the tailwheel to be down during the race and normally all three wheels retract or extend together.  What do the cockpit gear lights look like in P-51?  If the tailwheel failed to retract after takeoff, would the pilot know?  If he knew, it seems like he would not continue to race knowing that the drag would knock him out of the running.  Also, would the tailwheel gear doors stay on at racing speeds?  Does the fact that the doors are still on the airplane immediately prior to impact mean that the tailwheel has only recently extended? it would be interesting to see photos taken earlier in the race to see if the tailwheel was retracted.

Also, look at photo #2 (where the airplane is nearly inverted).  What's going on just under the number on the fuselage? Is that a cloud in the background or is that a burst of vapor?  Racers sometimes save weight by removing the normal gear extension system and "blowing" the gear down with nitrogen.  Are we seeing an accidental deployment of the tailwheel nitrogen charge (if the airplane had one)?  Even so, I don't see how that would throw the airplane out of control.  The missing trim tab is much more serious.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2011, 08:06:43 PM »

Why is the tail wheel down?

Good question.  It's hard to relate the failed trim tab to an extended tail wheel.  As you say, there is no reason for the tailwheel to be down during the race and normally all three wheels retract or extend together. b] What do the cockpit gear lights look like in P-51?  [/b]If the tailwheel failed to retract after takeoff, would the pilot know?  If he knew, it seems like he would not continue to race knowing that the drag would knock him out of the running.  Also, would the tailwheel gear doors stay on at racing speeds?  Does the fact that the doors are still on the airplane immediately prior to impact mean that the tailwheel has only recently extended? it would be interesting to see photos taken earlier in the race to see if the tailwheel was retracted.

Also, look at photo #2 (where the airplane is nearly inverted).  What's going on just under the number on the fuselage? Is that a cloud in the background or is that a burst of vapor?  Racers sometimes save weight by removing the normal gear extension system and "blowing" the gear down with nitrogen.  Are we seeing an accidental deployment of the tailwheel nitrogen charge (if the airplane had one)?  Even so, I don't see how that would throw the airplane out of control.  The missing trim tab is much more serious.

-------------------------------

See attached.

gl
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 09:03:14 PM »

Thanks Gary.  Looks like there are just two lights - "Safe" and "Unsafe" - not terribly informative for the pilot.
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Don Dollinger

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 10:40:45 AM »

Quote
I wonder if Leeward had blacked out.  Looks like he may have slumped out of sight in this photo.

Fox News quoted:  The 65-year-old "Galloping Ghost" underwent years of overhauls that took a full 10 feet off its wingspan. The ailerons - the back edges of the main wings used to control balance - were also cut from about 60 inches to 32 inches.

Pilot Jimmy Leeward had said the changes made the P-51 Mustang faster and more maneuverable, 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, Leeward called some of the changes "extremely radical," compared some to systems on the space shuttle and explained that he had increased the plane's speed capabilities to be more like those of a modern fighter jet.

Quote
Look closely at the photo.  The elevator trim tab is missing.

Investigators don't yet know what caused the plane to pitch sharply into the crowd at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, killing nine people, including Leeward, and injuring dozens. They have focused on the "elevator trim tab" - a piece of the tail that helps the aircraft maintain lift and appeared to break off before the crash.

Very good eyes Ric, would think that not only would it be a pretty scarey proposition to hop into a plane and do those speeds without even knowing how and if it will maneuver, it is also foolhardy and completely wreckless.  I have been to a plane race and thought then that you have to be a bit of lunatic to compete in that sport.  I am not a pilot and did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express so maybe I am off the mark, but wouldn't someone that is going to do something so dangerous, after such heavy mods, do extensive testing PRIOR to the race so as to know what to expect or will the loss of the trim tab throw a plane so out of whack that it would be unsaveable anyhow?

LTM,

Don
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 10:43:19 AM by Don Dollinger »
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Don Dollinger

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 10:49:37 AM »

OOPS, got to give credit where credit is due, misquoted my previous post as from a story from Fox News when in fact it was from a story in The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8772709/Reno-Air-Race-crash-plane-modified-for-increased-speed.html

LTM,

Don
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Ricker H Jones

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2011, 05:05:44 PM »

P-51 Voodoo Chile had a very similar incident in 1998 when the elevator trim tab came off at speed.  The plane pitched up abruptly, pulling 10 g's and blacked out pilot Bob Hannah.  However, Voodoo Chile didn't roll over, and after climbing to 9000 feet, Hannah came to, and brought the plane down safely.  It was taken out of the race that year with suspected structural damage.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 09:13:59 AM by Ricker H Jones »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2011, 05:51:11 PM »

NTSB Press Conference about the accident, 18 September 2011.

There's a rumor that the telemetry showed +20 G at the time the trim tab failed.

If true, that may mean that the pilot was unconscious from that point until the impact.

Condolences to all the families and friends of all who died.  So sad.
LTM,

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Dan Swift

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2011, 09:00:52 AM »

Now there is some speculation (always plenty of that to go around isn't there) that the seat may have failed at high G's.  Even if he was awake, which is doubtful, he probably had no way of controlling the plane...certainly not in time to avoide impact.  Sounds reasonable to me.  Not even his head is visible in the pictures. 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2011, 10:11:27 AM »

What do you wanna bet there are a lot of P-51 trim tabs being checked right now?
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: 2009's "Amelia" stunt pilot died today in the Reno Air Races
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2011, 04:51:57 PM »

Actually, I'll bet there aren't a "lot" of them being checked in the usual sense of the word, but I'll bet you're right about just about all of them that still exist!  Sad that people died, and sad, too, that there's one less P-51, even if it was highly modified.  By the way Ric, do you know how many P-51's do still exist?
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