Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-12-017
Synopsis: On September 16, 2011, about 1626 Pacific daylight time, a modified experimental single-seat North American P-51D, N79111, collided with the airport ramp in the spectator box seat area following a loss of control while maneuvering during the unlimited class1 gold race at the NCAR at Reno Stead Airport (RTS), Reno, Nevada. The airplane was registered to Aero-Trans Corp, Ocala, Florida, and operated by the pilot as Race 177, the Galloping Ghost, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and 10 people on the ground sustained fatal injuries; based on preliminary information, 66 people sustained serious injuries, and numerous minor injuries were reported. The airplane fragmented upon impact with the ramp. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local air race flight, which departed RTS about 10 minutes before the accident. Numerous photographs and videos of the accident sequence have been collected from the public during the investigation, and an airplane performance study is being conducted. Based on available information, the airplane was established in a turn while passing pylon 8 on the 10-pylon course (see figure) when it experienced an upset. Its airspeed was about 460 knots (530 mph) at this time. After the initial roll upset, it entered a severe rolling climb maneuver and traveled a downward spiral flightpath to impact the ramp in the box seat area. Preliminary findings in the NTSB’s ongoing investigation point to the need for safety improvements regarding evaluation of aircraft with structural or flight control modifications, the unlimited class course design, and training for air race pilots concerning potential physiological effects of high g4 operations.
Recommendation: TO THE RENO AIR RACING ASSOCIATION: Evaluate the feasibility of requiring pilots to wear g suits when racing at the Reno National Championship Air Races; if the evaluation determines it is feasible, implement a requirement.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Reno, NV, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: WPR11MA454
Accident Reports: Pilot/Race 177, The Galloping Ghost, North American P-51D, N79111
Report #: AAB-12-01
Accident Date: 9/16/2011
Issue Date: 4/10/2012
Date Closed: 8/27/2012
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Reno Air Racing Association (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Reno Air Racing Association
Date: 5/9/2013

From: Reno Air Racing Association
Date: 3/13/2013

From: NTSB
To: Reno Air Racing Association
Date: 9/19/2012
Response: RARA consulted with subject matter experts to evaluate the feasibility of requiring pilots to wear g suits when racing at the NCAR. These evaluations indicated that, although a g suit is useful in a sustained high-g environment, it would not enhance g tolerance on the NCAR course. Moreover, a g suit would be ineffective in an environment in which there is a virtually instantaneous buildup of g loads, such as the rapid pitch-up of an airplane, as was encountered by the accident airplane. Therefore, RARA will leave g-suit usage to the pilot’s discretion. RARA’S actions satisfy Safety Recommendation A-12-17, which was classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION at our August 27, 2012, Board Meeting.

From: Reno Air Racing Association
Date: 7/12/2012
Response: -From Michael J. Houghton, President and CEO (July 9, 2012): RARA has evaluated the feasibility of requiring pilots to wear "G" suits when racing at the NCAR with subject matter experts, including the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Air Force Research Lab, flight surgeons and current/former fighter pilots. Based on these discussions, the benefit of a G suit is of limited, if any, value on a race course designed for short duration 3.5 G turns. The limited aid to "G" tolerance which a G suit provides in a sustained high "G " environment does not enhance "G" tolerance on a race course designed for short duration 3.5 "G" turns such as those encountered during the NCAR. Moreover, a "G" suit would be ineffective in an environment where there is a virtually instantaneous buildup of G forces such as those encountered by a rapid pitch up of an aircraft Therefore, RARA will leave "G" suit usage to the discretion of the pilot rather than mandating "G" suit implementation and will focus its efforts on educating pilots regarding "G" tolerance and awareness. -From Michael J. Houghton, President and CEO (July 12, 2012): On July 9, 2012, the Reno Air Race Association, Inc. ("RARA") sent its responses to the April 10, 2012, recommendations made by the NTSB to RARA. On July 11, 2012, the FAA released the draft of Advisory Circular ("AC") 43-209A, entitled "Recommended Inspection Procedures for Former Military Aircraft." It is noted in paragraph one of that draft AC that it "provides recommendations for the development of inspection program requirements for the certificates of former military aircraft in the experimental category for the purpose(s) of exhibition and air racing that operate in the United States in accordance with Title 14 of the Federal Code of Regulations (14 C.F.R.) Part 21 , §21.191 (d) and (e)." The FAA has asked for comments on the draft by August 9, 2012. Inasmuch as the draft AC was not issued until after we sent our responses to the recommendations of the NTSB, particularly A-12-13, RARA did not have the benefit of having reviewed and/or commented on it in the context of our response. However, the NTSB should be assured that RARA will, as part of its ongoing review of its procedures and processes, consider the draft AC and extent to which the information/recommendations contained therein should be implemented by RARA. Thank you for permitting RARA to participate in this important undertaking.