Loss of Tail Piece May Explain Reno Crash

Posted on September 23, 2011

As the investigation of the deadly Reno air show accident continues, investigators may be closer to pinpointing the cause behind the crash. Photographs and videos taken moments before the WWII fighter plane crashed into the tarmac suggest a missing tail piece may have contributed to the pilot losing control.

The plane, a heavily modified vintage P-51 mustang, was making its third lap, moving from third place to second, when it pitched violently upward, rolled, and then crashed into the stands near the VIP area at what appeared to be full speed.

From pictures, experts believe that a piece called a “trim tab” fell off, which may have caused the plane to travel upward.

Federal officials are still investigating the crash, and attempting to piece together debris to understand what might have occurred, although that is proving difficult.

“Normally when you see an air crash, you see recognizable wreckage. There was nothing, just little bits of metal,” said a Reno pilot who witnessed the crash.

Extreme changes were made to the plane before the race. According to the 74-year-old stunt pilot, his crew shortened the wings and the ailerons to make the plane go faster without adding more weight.

In a podcast, the pilot of the P-51 said, “I know the speed. I know it’ll do the speed. The systems aren’t proven yet. We think they’re going to be OK.”

As investigations continue, I know family members and victims are going through a trying and troublesome time, and the lack of conclusions are frustrating. As an aviation disaster lawyer, I offer my sympathies to the victims and their families, and wish everyone strength during this difficult time. The safety of this event has been questioned by many, as well as the strictness of the regulations in place to prevent disasters such as this one. If you or someone you love was injured in this crash, I advise you to speak with an airplane accident lawyer in order to receive a legal consultation. The lawyers at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP are available to speak with you at any time about the pain and suffering you have experienced in relation to this accident.

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