Plane crash map Locate crash sites, wreckage and more

N8124N accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 39.668056°N, 119.876389°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Reno, NV
39.529633°N, 119.813803°W
10.1 miles away
Tail number N8124N
Accident date 13 Jun 2013
Aircraft type Aero Vodochody L39C
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 13, 2013, about 1705 Pacific daylight time, an Aero Vodochody L39C, N8124N, operating as Race 777, and an Aero Vodochody L39C, N2399V, operating as Race 99, were substantially damaged when they collided midair, at the Reno/Stead Airport (RTS), Reno, Nevada, during a practice closed course air racing session. Race 777 was registered to CSC Enterprises Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, and Race 99 was registered to a private individual. Both airplanes were operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flights. The private pilot, sole occupant of Race 777, and the commercial pilot, sole occupant of Race 99, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either airplane. Both Race 777 and Race 99 departed from RTS about 1615.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, both airplanes were on the race course between outer pylons 3 and 4 when they collided. Following the collision, the pilot of Race 99 landed uneventfully on runway 26. The inspector stated that the pilot of Race 777 landed gear-up on runway 14, following two previous attempts.

A written statement was provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) by a witness, who was the president of the jet class. The witness stated that during the afternoon jet flying period, he was located in the control tower, and was observing all of the airplanes participating in the flying session. During this time, Race 777 was flying the race course with two other certified racers prior to the entry of three jets with rookie pilots, two of which had instructors onboard. All experienced racers were instructed to climb above the race course environment to allow the three rookies to establish themselves on course. Once the three-ship formation of rookies was established, the certified racers were allowed to re-enter the racecourse.

The witness stated that the certified racers were instructed prior to the flight to avoid the three-ship rookie flight as they were maneuvering at slower speeds around the course for orientation. He further stated that the rookie three-ship had flown several laps in a trail formation prior to the incident. During this time, two of the certified racers, Race 6 and Race 7 exited the course and entered the landing pattern to terminate their flight. However, Race 777 remained on the race course with the three- ship formation of rookies.

The witness further reported that from his position, he observed the three rookies fly around pylons 1, 2, and 3, in a trail formation with approximately 3,000 feet of spacing between the first and last airplane. He also noted that there was some altitude difference between the three airplanes as they maneuvered to stay behind each other and survey the course. At this time, Race 777 was approaching the three-ship rookie formation from behind at a lower altitude with a considerable overtake in speed.

The witness stated that just prior to starting the turn at pylon 4, Race 777 begin to maneuver up, behind, and outside of the three-ship formation, with a decrease in speed, however, was still overtaking Race 99, which was the last airplane in the rookie formation flight. The witness further stated that it appeared that Race 777 traveled from below and to the left of Race 99, and passed underneath Race 99 with a slight left-to-right crossing angle. As Race 777 crossed underneath Race 99, the witness observed a small puff of smoke and small pieces of debris twirling in the sky. A "midair" and "mayday" was subsequently called for both Race 99 and Race 777.

In a written statement to the NTSB IIC, the pilot of Race 99 reported that prior to the flight it was briefed that the three-ship rookie formation flight would fly in trail down the chute, entering the race course starting at an airspeed of 250 kts. The focus of the brief and the flight was to recognize the pylons, locate strong landmarks for the course and fly safely. It was also briefed that the rookies would not pass each other. The pilot stated that the course entry was in trail formation. During the 6th lap while approaching pylon 4, he had closed to within 2,000 feet of race 707, who was another rookie that he was following. He then reduced power and moved to the outside of the turn while climbing to about 300 feet above ground level. From his position, he noted that he was at about a 45 degrees angle off race 707's right wing, approximately 120 feet above and 1,200 feet in trail. As he was in a stabilized 45 degree bank turn approaching pylon 5, at an airspeed of about 260 knots, he felt a thud under the left wing of the airplane and a sudden roll to the right. Subsequently, the pilot noticed an object over his left shoulder, rolled away, and initiated a climb. The pilot stated that he then realized the object was Race 777. The pilot declared a mayday, and landed uneventfully on runway 26.

In a written statement to the NTSB IIC, the pilot of Race 777 reported that prior to the flight; the lead instructor informed them that a three-ship formation of rookie aircraft would be joining them on the race course. After flying about 11 or 12 laps with one other certified racer, they received a radio call that the flight of students was entering the course. He exited the race course, orbited above the airport as briefed, and reentered the race course in front of the first student airplane to position himself to allow each instructor to demonstrate to his student the proper passing technique after the pilot of race 7 returned to the course behind the last airplane of the three-ship formation of students. The pilot stated that the last student aircraft, Race 99, initiated his pass as they neared pylon 9, however, did not actually start to pull away from him until they were almost at pylon 5. The pilot said that as he approached pylon 7, he was trailing Race 99 by approximately 1,000 feet and observed Race 99 go high and wide. As he rolled into the turn at pylon 7, he observed Race 99 continue straight ahead while climbing, which he thought that the pilot of Race 99 was exiting the race course. However, the pilot then observed Race 99 pitch downward and toward the course, and noted that the distance between both airplanes had decreased without any acceleration of his airplane.

The pilot further reported that he had held his position behind Race 99 while passing pylons 1 and 2, and the distance between both airplanes had decreased due to Race 99 flying a wider path around the pylons. As he initiated his turn toward pylon 4, he observed Race 707, the middle airplane situated in the three-ship formation, initiate a wide turn around pylon 4, which resulted in Race 99 making a wide turn to the outer area of the race course. The pilot stated that he saw Race 99 was climbing to match the rising terrain when he noticed Race 707 abruptly turn left followed by Race 99 following the same, which resulted in his position changing from an 8 o'clock position to a 10 o'clock position behind Race 99. The pilot added that he could see that the pilot of Race 99 was not looking his direction by the orientation of his helmet, and believed that the pilot of Race 99 was looking at the flight path of Race 707. The pilot said that he keyed my mic to alert the pilot of Race 99 of his position, however, was stepped on by another transmission, and observed Race 99 continue a descent towards his position while approaching pylon 4.

The pilot reported that he was already banked 70 to 80 degrees to turn around the pylon. He felt that his airplane was a big vertical target, and that if he had pulled more Gs, he risked greying out and hitting pylon 4, or pushing forward would have risked hitting the rising terrain. The pilot stated that he made the decision to level the airplane, and try to present a smaller target; however, it did not solve the converging angles of both airplanes. The pilot watched Race 99 continue to close in distance, when he saw the nose of Race 99 above and behind his right wing. Subsequently, Race 99 and his airplane collided. Following the impact, the pilot said he did not know the extent of the damage, and had a severe vibration along with locked rudder pedals in full right deflection, and up pressure on the control stick. The pilot reported that during the third attempt at landing gear up, he was able to land on runway 14.

Examination of Race 777 by an FAA inspector revealed that the upper portion of the vertical stabilizer and rudder were separated. Examination of Race 99 revealed that the bottom side of the fuselage, aft of the nose landing gear, was dented upward into a pressure bulkhead.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to see and avoid the other airplane during an air race training session, which resulted in a midair collision.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.