Las Vegas Sun

July 12, 2024

Loose screws focus of Reno air race crash probe

Reno Air Races crash

Ward Howes / AP

A P-51 Mustang airplane is shown right before crashing at the Reno Air show on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. A World War II-era fighter plane flown by a veteran Hollywood stunt pilot plunged Friday into the edge of the grandstands during a popular air race, killing three people, injuring more than 50 spectators and creating a horrific scene strewn with smoking debris.

Reno Air Races crash

A P-51 Mustang airplane crashes into the edge of the grandstands at the Reno Air show on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. The World War II-era fighter plane flown by a veteran Hollywood stunt pilot Jimmy Leeward plunged Friday into the edge of the grandstands during the popular air race creating a horrific scene strewn with smoking debris. Launch slideshow »

Federal safety regulators are focusing on loose screws in the tail of World War II-era plane modified to race faster than 500 mph as a likely cause of the crash that killed the pilot and 10 others during air races in Nevada last year.

The National Transportation Safety Board released nearly 1,000 pages of documents and photographs Tuesday as it investigates the cause of the September 2011 crash at the Reno Air Races.

Regulators also point to potential deficiencies in inspection procedures.

The board says inspectors noted screws used earlier were too short in one of the trim tabs that help control the aircraft. The crew reportedly fixed the problem and the plane was cleared to race.

The NTSB says there was "no written procedure or sign off to ensure" that was the case.

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