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Brodkowitz Law, founded by attorney Alisa Brodkowitz, is a Seattle law firm specializing in plane crash injuries, injuries on flights and wrongful death

2011 National Championship Air Race Crash in Reno, NV

On September 16, 2011, about 1626 Pacific daylight time, a P-51 Mustang airplane, dubbed “The Galloping Ghost”, piloted by James “Jimmy” Leeman, who was participating in the National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno, Nevada, pitched oddly upward, twirled and took an immediate nosedive into a section of white VIP box seats where it crashed, killing the pilot and 9 others. At least 74 others on the ground received varying degrees of injuries. Media coverage of the crash has been extensive and is widely available on the internet.

This webpage has been added to give information about the crash and offer resources to those who have been affected.


NTSB Opens Docket on Reno Air Race Crash

August 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - As part of its continuing investigation into the September 2011 crash of a highly modified P-51D airplane at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, the National Transportation Safety Board has opened the public docket.

On September 16, 2011, the pilot of the Galloping Ghost experienced an upset while turning between pylons 8 and 9 on the race course. The airplane crashed on the ramp in the box seat spectator area. The pilot and 10 spectators were killed and more than 60 others were injured.

The information being released today is factual in nature and does not provide any analysis. Included in the docket are photographs, a video, 47 documents and more than 900 pages, including interview summaries, maintenance records and other documents. The docket material is available here.

Additional material may be added to the docket as it becomes available. Analysis of the accident, along with a determination of probable cause, will come later this month when the final report on the investigation is completed.

This is a document release only. No interviews are being conducted.

NTSB Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
(202) 314-6100
Terry Williams

A link to this press release can be found by clicking,here.

Prior Updates:

As of May 22, 2012, the Associated Press is reporting that the Reno Air Race Association (RARA) is planning to change the course for the races this fall for the faster planes to keep them further away from spectators. The association is requesting permission from the FAA to move the largest pylon course for the 49th annual championships.  He states, "We had a choice to move the grandstands or some of the racing so we are pushing some of the racing further away, Houghton told the Associated Press.

The full story can be found, here.  For more information, contact us.

The National Transportation Safety Board

The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Reno Air Race Association d/b/a National Championship Air Races and Air Show are parties to the investigation. The NTSB’s Preliminary Report can be found here. The final report is anticipated sometime before September 2012.

The NTSB Aviation Accident Investigation website for the incident can be found here. There you will find links to the Preliminary Report, Video of Press Briefings and a Press Release following the crash. The NTSB Accident No. is WPR11MA454.

On April 10, 2012 the NTSB issued 10 Safety Recommendations to the FAA, the National Air Racing Group Unlimited Division and the Reno Air Racing Association.

Recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration:

A-12-08 recommends that FAA Order 8900.1 and Advisory Circular 91-45C be revised to correct inaccurate and incomplete information and reconcile all differences and inconsistencies between the documents.

Click here to view the NTSB Recommendation Letter (A-12-08) to the FAA.

Recommendations to the National Air Racing Group Unlimited Division:

A-12-009 recommends requiring aircraft owners in the unlimited class provide an engineering evaluation for aircrafts with any major modifications.

A-12-10 recommends development of a system that tracks any discrepancies noted during prerace technical inspections and verifies that they have been resolved.

A-12-11 recommends high g (force) training to pilots as part of preparations before the Reno National Championship Air Races (NCAR).

A-12-12 recommends evaluation of the deasibility of requiring pilots to wear g suits when racing at NCAR.

Click here to view the NTSB Recommendation Letter (A-12-9 through 12) to the National Air Racing Group Unlimited Division.

Recommendations to the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA):

A-12-013 recommends requiring owners in the unlimited class provide an engineering evaluation for aircraft with any major modification.

A-12-014 recommends an evaluation of the design of the unlimited class course and safety ares to minimize maneuvering near potential conflicts with spectators. 

A-12-015 recommends the following actions to raisse the level of safety for spectators and personnel near the race course: 1) relocate the fuel truck away from the ramp area, and 2) install barriers in front of any area where spectators are present. 

A-12-016 recommends providing high g (force) training to pilots, including techniques to mitigate effects of high g (force) exposure. 

A-12-017 recommends the evaluation of the feasibility of requiring pilots to wear g suits when racing at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

Click here to view the NTSB Recommendation Letter (A-12-13 through 17) to the RARA.

Federal Aviation Administration

The Reno Air Race Association (RARA) is the air race sponsor and responsible for organizing the races and providing information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), responsible for regulating the race, in conjunction with the forms 7711-1 and 7711-2, i.e. the aviation event waiver required to put on the races each year. In order to comply with FAA requirements the race organizers provide information such as maps of showlines, safety zones, spectator areas, etc. A copy of the Advisory Circular 91-45C and Order 8900.1 Change 86 can be found here. 

For information regarding the FAA Regulations to Issue a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for an Aviation Event, click here. 

Reno Air Racing Association d/b/a National Championship Air Races

For information about the Reno Air Racing Association, Inc. d/b/a National Championship Air Races (RARA) please their website.

The RARA carried a $100 million liability policy at the time of the crash. Click here to view a copy of the Certificate of Liability Coverage.

A copy of the 2011 application participants were required to fill out prior to entry in the National Championship Air Races and Air Show, can be found here.

Air Race and Air Show Safety Hearing

On January 10, 2012, the NTSB held an Air Race and Air Show Safety Hearing. A press release announcing the agenda allowed for government agencies, aviation event trade associations, show organizers and air show participates to serve as witnesses for the hearing.   The purpose of the meeting was said to:  (1) bring public attention to the safety issues involved in aviation event operations; and (2) provide NTSB Members and investigative staff with a deeper understanding of regulations, protocols and practices used in the planning and operations of air shows and air races. Information gathered in the hearing will assist NTSB staff in the investigation of air show and air race incidents and accidents. Click here to view the press release regarding the Safety Hearing.

The NTSB's Public Docket for this hearing has not yet been made available to the public.  More information regarding the hearing can be found here.   

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us via email or call us at (206) 838-7531.

Wrongful Death

For more information about how Brodkowitz Law can help you pursue a Wrongful Death Case against responsible parties, please click here.  You will also find helpful information about support groups such as ACCESS.

Airplane Crashes

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