The family of a Texas man (Craig Salerno) has filed the first lawsuit stemming from the crash of a WWII mustang race airplane that crashed into the crowd at a Reno, Nevada air show. The $25-million lawsuit was filed in Texas. The suit says that the crash “was the predictable result of a reckless drive for speed by a risk taking pilot and crew, coupled with an insatiable drive for profit by those who stood to profit from the show.”
Jimmy Leeward, who was the pilot of the airplane, was also killed in the crash. The accident occurred when his plane (a highly modified P-51 mustang that was over sixty-five years old) raced skyward, pitched, rolled and slammed into the box-seat area, where Salerno was sitting. Salerno, who is a married father of two young children, was killed instantly. Federal investigators have said they are reviewing evidence that suggests a piece broke off the tail of the plane about the time it suddenly pitched up. Aviation experts say that the trim tab — an aluminum component that helps keep the plane’s nose down — probably snapped off. The lawsuit says air show mechanics reported that Leeward’s team had been “having trouble” with the plane’s trim tab. The Reno Air Racing Assn., which runs the event, was among the parties named in the lawsuit. Its CEO, Michael Houghton, told the Associated Press that he hadn’t reviewed it yet. “We fully expect a number of lawsuits to be filed,” he said. “This is the first.”

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