A preliminary report from the NTSB states the plane that crashed into the stands at the Reno Air Races last week was missing a piece of the frame.
The National Transportation Safety Board released their preliminary findings Friday morning on the September 16th crash that killed 11 people, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, and left 66 seriously injured. Eight of the injured remain hospitalized as of Friday morning.
The preliminary information from the NTSB confirms many details the media has already reported, including the fact that the plane was an experimental P-51D and that it was participating in the last Air Race event of the day being held at the Reno Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada.
There were several video clips and photos of the crash, many catching a few frames of the Galloping Ghost as it left formation and headed toward the stands. NTSB investigators looked at all the evidence gathered so far, and say Leeward suddenly banked to the left before banking to the right then pitched to a steep nose-high altitude. According to the NTSB’s report, “Witnesses reported and photographic evidence indicates that a piece of the airframe separated during these maneuvers.”
After these moves, the plane nose-dived into the box seat area in the center of the grandstand.
Investigators identified the onboard data box and although it was damaged in the crash, should provide investigators with information about what happened moments before the crash.
The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration examined the wreckage on site for the last week, and will now move the debris to a storage facility for a more detailed examination.