ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 40475
Last updated: 24 May 2013
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Narrative:At the Reno Air Races, in turn 1 of the Saturday Unlimited heat race, lap 1, Gary Levitz piloting Miss Ashley II lost his life when the empenage of the aircraft separated causing the aircraft to break up in flight and impact the ground east of the airport.
North American/Rogers P-51R Mustang
|C/n / msn:|| 87-1002|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1|
|Airplane damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Reno, NV -
United States of America
|Phase:|| Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)|
|Departure airport:||Reno, NV|
|Destination airport:||Reno, NV|
Levitz, 61, was a 30 year veteran of air racing and was competing in the Gold heat race. This highly modified racer uses a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine with contra-rotating props. It also uses a Learjet wing and highly modified tail section. This aircraft was built strictly for racing.
The empennage assembly of the experimental race plane separated and the aircraft crashed during the first lap of an unlimited class heat race at the Reno National Championship Air Races. The wreckage was spread over approximately a 0.5-mile path. The first item located in the wreckage path was the lower half-span of the rudder control. Approximately 1/8 mile further along the debris path was a wreckage field about 500 feet long containing the remainder of the empennage (including the rudder trim tab), except the rudder upper half-span. The rudder upper half-span, including the mass balance, was located about 1,900 feet to the right of the debris field. When laid together, the rudder exhibited a shredded appearance through the midspan forward of the rudder trim tab location. Review of a spectator video recording taken from the rear in the seconds before the accident showed that, while the other parts of the aircraft were visible, the rudder and vertical stabilizer were not visible. The video technician opined that the disappearance of the vertical fin and rudder might have been the result of 'video smearing' if the rudder was moving rapidly and the video image recorder rate could not keep up with it. The precipitating event was not determined during extensive reconstruction and analysis of the empennage.
CAUSE: The onset of a flutter event and the resultant separation of the rudder and empennage from the aircraft. The precipitating cause for the flutter could not be determined.
||Updated [Aircraft type, Phase, Nature, Narrative]|
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