A federal hearing will examine the safety of air races and air shows after a horrific crash killed 11 people and injured more than 70 at an event in Reno. While the hearing before the National Transportation Safety Board will not be not solely related to the Sept. 16 disaster at the National Air Race Championships, the 47-year-old competition will be included in the review. Chairman Deborah Hersman and all five agency board members plan to participate in the hearing this month which is scheduled to start on January 10th at NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is a clear sign that the issue is considered to be especially important.
The hearing will attempt to gather information on safety regulations and oversight in the planning and execution of air races and shows. Testimony at the hearing will come from regulators, aviation organizations, industry groups and airport authorities. They will be questioned about safety practices, procedures and protocols. Since there is not yet a witness list, it’s not known whether any Reno officials are invited to testify.
The hearing is separate from one that will be held to determine what caused a modified World War II-era aircraft dubbed “The Galloping Ghost” to crash into the apron of the grandstand filled with thousands of people at Stead Airport. The victims included the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, a veteran movie stunt pilot and air racer who competed at the Reno air races since 1975. Photos showed a tail part known as an elevator trim tab missing as the P-51D Mustang climbed sharply then rolled and plunged nose-first at more than 400 mph into box seats. It was the first time spectators had been killed at a national competition since the races began 47 years ago in Reno. But 20 pilots, including Mr. Leeward, have died in that time, according to race officials.
Source: Insurance Journal
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