A total of 11 people were killed and almost 70 others injured in a fatal plane crash one year ago this week and the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a report on its investigation into the accident. The crash involved a North American 9-51D Mustang with the sobriquet of “The Galloping Ghost,” which crashed at the Reno Air Show on September 16th, 2011. It is considered the third-deadliest disaster at an air show in the U.S., according to reports.
The vintage airplane, a single-seat World War II fighter plane, had seen a number of modifications and was flying a little more than 510 miles per hour halfway through the race when it crashed into the crowd at the air show, killing the pilot and ten spectators on the ground. According to the NTSB report, the vertical acceleration of the airplane peaked at 17.3 G which caused the pilot to become incapacitated. Just moments after that, a left section of the airplane’s trim tab became separated from the aircraft and it plummeted to the ground where spectators had gathered to watch the aerial speed show.
The NTSB report said the crash was ultimately caused by weakened locknuts that had been reused to attach the trim tab. The aircraft had been “drastically modified” and the modifications were not reported to the FAA as required by law. These modifications and the failure of not reporting them to the FAA ultimately placed spectators and show personnel in grave danger. Spectators at any public event have a right to expect their safety has been duly considered and they will not be placed in harm’s way.
At the National Championship Air Races 11 people were killed and 69 others seriously injured due to the negligence of others involved in modifying the 70-year-old aircraft. At some point the owners and operators of the air show itself have some responsibility for failing to ensure the safety of spectators as well. Pilots assume the risk of flying, spectators on the ground do not, therefore those injured and the family members of those killed may have recourse in the form of personal injury and wrongful death claims against those responsible for the deadly crash.
Source: Examiner, “NTSB finds causes of 2011 Reno Air Races crash,” Joel Siegfried, Aug. 28, 2012
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