Best of the Web: The Reno Air Races Crash

The recent tragedy at the National Championship Air Races in Reno naturally sparked plenty of commentary from the aviation community and beyond. Here is a compilation of some of what has already been written:

“Reno’s Reckless Air Tragedy.” Beginning on a negative tone, Richard Collins in Air Facts has pointed out a post on “The Daily Beast” from author Clive Irving that was entitled “Reno’s Reckless Air Tragedy.” The post included lines like:

The plane crash that killed three (actually nine – Ed.) and injured dozens of spectators at a Reno air race Friday is a reminder of how lax precautions often turn air shows into disasters….

What was a 74-year-old pilot doing in a souped-up World War II fighter flying in an air race? The tragedy in Reno is a ghastly reminder that the normal rules of public safety are suspended when air shows are involved…

Richard then commented that within hours of the post being written, it already had 200 mostly negative comments from readers.

Understanding the Legal Liability Aspects of the Accident. On a legal note and as we mentioned at the beginning of the week, Maxwell S. Kennerly, an attorney with Beasley Firm, LLC, a law firm that not only litigates aviation accidents but whose founder flew several World War II vintage planes (including P-51s), has written a very comprehensive and informative post that takes a look at all of the legal liability aspects of the tragedy.

Eyewitness Account of the Crash. Tracy, the blogger behind the Around the Pattern blog who was at the Reno Air Races, has posted a link to what he calls the most account of the tragedy that he is aware of. The article appeared in the CDA press in Idaho and its author was a media witness to the crash.

Podcast Eyewitness Interview. In addition, AVweb has created a podcast of an interview with their subscriber Scott Peterson who was taking pictures of the final heat of the day and also captured a full sequence of Jimmy Leeward’s fatal crash. In the podcast, Scott recounts his impressions of what he saw.

Reno Air Races Are the Last of Their Kind. Meanwhile, Ron Rapp, who had several friends at the Reno Air Races, has posted a collection of photos of the tragedy unfolding. Ron also noted that while air races were once held in major cities across the USA, Reno is the only real air racing left in the world. Moreover, he pointed out that Jimmy Doolittle, who achieved considerable success and fame in the world of air racing, would later become an opponent of the sport in later years.

Should the Reno Air Races Continue? When writing about whether or not the air races should continue, Paul Bertorelli pointed out in a post on AVweb that the The Charlotte Observer had found that during a 12-year-period in the 1990s, 29 spectators were killed at autoracing events. In contrast, US airshows and air racing have had fewer incidents of spectator deaths or injuries. Nevertheless, Paul did note two horrible exceptions outside the US: 70 dead at Ramstein in 1988 and 85 dead in the Ukraine in 2002.

Reno Gazette Journal Editorial About the Tragedy. Paul Bertorelli also noted the Reno Gazette’s editorial about the tragedy which mentioned that the Reno Air Races attract more than 200,000 spectators per year, which includes 90,000 outside visitors to the area, and generates more than $80 million a year for the region’s economy. In other words, the Reno Air Races will likely continue but there will need to be changes to prevent another tragedy from occurring.

Fans of the Reno Air Races Remain Steadfast. Moreover, fans of the Reno Air Races have also told the New York Times that they are determined to see the air races continue.

Did a Broken Seat or a Missing Tab Cause the Crash? Finally and while its too early to know for sure what exactly caused the crash, David Cenciotti has a very detailed post on his blog where he also observed that the seat may have broken as the pilot is not visible in the last photos. Hence, he may not (if still conscious) been able to react to the broken trim.

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