Reno Races Wrap; NTSB Reports On Crash

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image: NCAR

image: NCAR

The National Championship Air Races wrapped up at Reno on Sunday, with Steven Hinton Jr., of Chino, California, taking the Breitling Unlimited Gold championship in his P-51 Mustang, Voodoo. It was the sixth win in a row for 27-year-old Hinton, who reached a top speed of 493 mph in Sunday's race. Close competitor Rare Bear, a 10-time winner, flown by Stewart Dawson, dropped out of the race after the first lap with mechanical problems. The event also hosted a drone race for the first time, with a field of 20 small unmanned aircraft systems in a competition organized by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. And on Saturday, the NTSB said in a preliminary report that the race plane that crashed last Monday during a qualifying heat broke up in flight before impacting the ground.

"Witnesses reported that the accident airplane departed runway 26, turned south and maneuvered to enter the race course," according to the NTSB. "As the airplane was observed passing outer pylon 5, portions of the right wing separated from the wing structure. Subsequently, the airplane began to roll to the right and impacted terrain. … [W]reckage debris was scattered between race pylons 5 and 6 of the outer race course… [within an] approximate 4,000 foot long debris path." Pilot Lee Behel was killed. On Sunday afternoon, pilot Bob Wolstenholme made an emergency landing as his airplane reportedly emitted fire and smoke, but he wasn't hurt. No other incidents occurred at the races.