NTSB: Trim tab failure caused 2011 Reno air crash

LAS VEGAS — The failure of an aircraft tail structure is the probable cause of the deadly crash of a racing plane into spectators at last year’s National Championship Air Races in Reno.

Pilot Jimmy Leeward is also blamed for failing to fully document and test extensive modifications to his souped-up World War II-era P-51 Mustang fighter before the September crash.

Leeward and 10 people on the ground were killed in the crash, and more than 70 were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that an elevator trim tab malfunction created aerodynamic instability that made Leeward’s plane uncontrollable.

This year’s Reno Air Races start Sept. 12.

The five-member NTSB says its recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration and race organizers to improve safety are largely being followed.

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