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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CHI07FA243A
Accident occurred Friday, July 27, 2007 in Oshkosh, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2008
Aircraft: Beck P-51A, registration: N8082U
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

An amateur-built P-51A Mustang (call sign "Precious Metal") collided with the tail section of a North American P-51D Mustang (call sign "Stang") as it was landing on runway 36 during the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture 2007 Oshkosh (OSH) air show. The airplanes were part of a five-aircraft air race demonstration event. The demonstration air race was completed and the five aircraft were in the process of landing separately (not in formation). The pilot of Stang reported that he thought the pilot of Precious Metal was departing the pattern and not landing at OSH. He reported that Stang was about two miles past the runway threshold on downwind at 700 - 800 feet agl, when he observed Precious Metal on a base leg about 1,000 feet agl on a southwesterly heading with its gear and flaps retracted. Stang turned inbound for landing on runway 36. Precious Metal turned inbound for landing behind Stang and transmitted "Precious Metal, one mile final," but Stang did not hear the transmission. The airplanes collided as Stang started its landing roll. Interviews with the air race demonstration pilots revealed there was confusion concerning the information discussed in the team brief prior to the race. The team representative reported that he briefed that Stang should land first, but two of the race pilots reported that they did not hear that discussed in the brief. Also, the team representative briefed that Precious Metal intended to land, refuel, take on a passenger, and then depart OSH for another nearby airport. The FAA had "waivered" the airspace, which made the air show Air Boss responsible for the air show operations, but he was not responsible for providing aircraft separation. The Air Boss did not observe the two P-51's on short final, because his attention was on an airplane taxiing near the air show center. The air traffic control tower was not in operation during the air show because the airspace was waivered, and the Air Boss was responsible for air/ground radio communications with the airplanes. No warning was given to the pilots concerning the lack of separation between the airplanes. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) 91.113 (g) Right-of-Way Rules state: "When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The P-51A pilot's inadequate visual lookout and his failure to maintain clearance from the P-51D. Contributing factors to the accident included the restricted forward visibility of the P-51A, the air race team representative's inadequate flight brief, the failure of the air boss to recognize the lack of separation between the airplanes on short final, and the diminished air/ground radio communications during the air show.