A $25 million lawsuit filed last week in Texas is the first in what is expected to be many following the Sept. 16 crash of a race plane at the National Championship Air Races in Reno. The crash of Jimmy Leeward's highly modified P-51 adjacent to a seating area killed 11 people, including Leeward, and injured more than 70. Among the dead was Craig Salerno, of Friendswood, Texas. The Associated Press reported Tony Buzbee, the lawyer for his family, cited the mods to the Galloping Ghost in his identification of "two groups of wrongdoers" the suit alleges are responsible for Salerno's death: "Those who pushed the limits of physics on the plane, being risk takers and reckless without regard for the people who might be watching them, and those who promoted and profited from hosting the show." Although there has been no indication so far that the crash will threaten the future of the Air Races, a crash the following day at a West Virginia airshow may be a factor in its cancellation next year.
Organizers told a news conference the crash, which killed T-28 pilot Jack Mangan, of Concord, N.C., is one of the factors that might seal the fate of the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge show in Martinsburg. Show President Brian Truman told a news conference that the National Guard base that hosts the show is also facing budget cuts and there are other unspecified factors. A decision will likely be made before the end of the year.