NTSB Report Suggests Landing Pattern Issues In Reno T-6 Midair


The pilot of Race 66, the North American AT-6 that finished the race directly behind the two aircraft that later collided in the landing pattern during the Reno Air Races, said that neither of the two race planes were “where he expected them to be” as he flew his downwind leg for Runway 8 at Reno-Stead Airport (KRTS). The pilot’s observations were included in yesterday’s (Oct. 10) preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the Sept. 17 double-fatal midair collision (To download the full report, click here and search for NTSB# WPR23FA345). The National Championship Air Races website lists the pilot of Race 66 (Gunslinger) as Vic McMann.

According to the NTSB, the pilot said he heard both accident-aircraft pilots make position reports but when he “finally” caught sight of race winner Race 14 (Baron’s Revenge) ahead of him, the T-6 was on a “wider base” than it had flown on the previous two flights and passing through his field of vision under the nose from right to left on a southerly heading. Second-place finisher Race 6 (Six-Cat) was “tighter” in the pattern than it had been previously and visible below and to the left of the nose, still on a west-southwesterly track for his downwind leg. The pilot of Race 66 apparently did not see the actual collision.

Other witnesses told the NTSB that Race 6 hit Race 14 at about a 75-degree angle at about 300 feet above ground level. Both T-6s crashed, killing their pilots, Chris Rushing in Race 14 Baron’s Revenge and Nick Macy in Race 6 Six-Cat.

The debris field for Race 14 began about 7,881 feet northwest of the approach end of Runway 8, according to the report, and extended 1,366 feet. The wreckage “included segments of the left aileron, segments of the left flap, right horizontal stabilizer, right elevator, [and] sections of aft fuselage skin.” The examination of the Race 14 debris also identified “(s)mall pieces of black painted skin and plexiglass from Race 6.”

“All major structural components of Race 6 were located within about 50 feet of the main wreckage,” according to the report, and “portions of fuselage skin from Race 14 were found comingled with the wreckage of Race 6.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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    • Thank you. I inserted the link to the ‘basic search’ page and added the accident number to the text. The NTSB website does not make it easy to provide a direct link to the report.