Two aircraft were able to land safely after a midair during a Jet Class heat at the 55th annual National Championship Air Races at Reno-Stead Airport (RTS) near Reno, Nevada, last Friday. As seen in the video below, the two Aero L-39 Albatros jets made contact when “Reality Czech,” piloted by Nathan Harnagel, was attempting to overtake “Race 37,” piloted by Alexandre Eckmann. The aircraft were reportedly travelling in excess of 400 miles per hour when the collision took place.
Both aircraft sustained damage, although “Race 37” took the most significant hit, losing approximately one-third of its right wing and sustaining visible damage to the elevator and vertical stabilizer. Eckmann was able to pull out of the race, call in a mayday and land shortly thereafter. Harnagel landed after a close inflight examination of his aircraft by chase pilot Jeff Turney, one of the founding members of the Jet Racing class at the National Championship Air Races. Neither pilot was injured in the collision.
The National Championship Air Races, which are hosted by the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) annually each September, include six racing classes, a display of static aircraft and military and civilian flight demonstrations. The last collision to occur during the Reno Air Races took place last year and also resulted in damage to the aircraft but no injuries. The last fatal accident at the event occurred in 2014.