Diminished Visibility, Breakdown In Communications, And
Inadequate Briefing Contributed
The National Transportation Safety Board released the final
report this past week on the fatal landing accident between a P-51A
and P-51D Mustang on July 27, 2007 at the 2007 AirVenture Oshkosh
airshow at Witman Field.
As reported by ANN, Gerard S. Beck of Wahpeton, ND was
flying the green-winged P-51A that apparently collided with a
P-51D, flown by Casey Odegaard, as both aircraft came in to land at
1517 CDT on July 27 following a simulated air race performance
during the airshow. Beck's plane flipped as the aircrafts' wings
touched, and the P-51A impacted the ground in an inverted
Beck was killed in the accident. Odegaard was able to exit his
plane under his own power after it came to rest on its nose, about
50 yards ahead of the wreckage of Beck's aircraft.
The NTSB report stated
as the five aircraft in the demonstration were recovering there was
confusion over the landing intentions of the P-51A. Odegaard in the
P-51D reported he thought the pilot of P-51A was departing the
pattern and not landing at OSH as he was established on a downwind,
however the P-51A was observed on a base leg at about 1,000 feet on
a southwesterly heading with its gear and flaps retracted as the
P-51D turned base. As the P-51D turned final, the P-51A also turned
inbound for landing behind it and transmitted "Precious Metal, one
mile final," but Odegaard did not hear the transmission.
Interviews with the air race demonstration pilots revealed there
was confusion concerning the information discussed in the team
brief prior to the race. The team representative reported that he
briefed that the P-51D flown by Odegaard should land first, but two
of the race pilots reported that they did not hear that discussed
in the brief.
There was also confusion on the intentions of the P-51A as the
team representative briefed that it intended to land, refuel, take
on a passenger, and then depart OSH for another nearby airport
– not depart the pattern as Odegaard thought.
As the Federal Aviation Administration had "waivered" the
airspace, the show Air Boss was declared responsible for the show
operations, but not responsible for providing aircraft separation.
The Air Boss did not observe the two P-51's on short final, because
his attention was on an airplane taxiing near the air show center.
No warning was given to the pilots concerning the lack of
separation between the airplanes.
The NTSB concluded the probable cause of the
collision to be the failure of the P-51A pilot to maintain
clearance from the P-51D due to an inadequate visual lookout.
Contributing factors to the accident included restricted forward
visibility of the P-51A, the air race team representative's
inadequate flight brief, the failure of the air boss to recognize
the lack of separation between the airplanes on short final, and
the diminished air/ground radio communications during the air
Aero-TV's On-Scene Report From Oshkosh 2007