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Malfunctioning Wing Cause For Reno Air Race Crash

The Reno Championship Air Races, held at Reno's Stead Airport, is a seven-day event that has attracted crowds from the local area and around the world since 1964. It has been dubbed "The World's Fastest Motor Sport," with more than 200,000 spectators attending the event in the last decade. It features several classes of planes, ranging from stunt planes to jets, racing around pylons that are attached to the ground to form a racecourse. Many of the competitors fly in modified war planes such as the Mustang that allows pilots to reach speeds of up to 500 mph on the course.

The event has generated over $80 million a year for the local economy and has become an institution for plane lovers in the region who come to see the static displays as well as the six major air races. Unfortunately, this year the spectators saw more than just a thrilling race when one of the airplanes crashed during mid-qualifiers.

Lee Behel, 64, a retired Air Force pilot, was operating his experimental plane during the qualifiers when officials believe that a wing malfunction caused portions of the right wing to rip off in mid-flight. The malfunction caused his Backovich Gp-5, "Sweet Dreams," to roll to the right and drop before crashing, killing Behel instantly. The impact left a debris trail for half a mile. Fortunately, no spectators were injured by the plane crash or falling debris, according to the National Transport Safety Board. The accident happened in a remote part of the airport that was far away from the grandstands. The Reno Air Racing Association said that it is cooperating with authorities over the crash and the spokesman for the association, Mark Draper, said that the preliminary report found little evidence to point to an error caused by the organization.

The Reno Air Races have been plagued by high-profile incidents before, such as an accident in 2011 that saw a plane plunge into the grandstand, killing 10 people.


If it can be established that a plane malfunction led to the pilot's death, there is a possibility that the company that manufactured the plane may be liable. Product liability hinges on one of three factors:

  • The product is inherently dangerous because of defects in design
  • The product is inherently dangerous because of defects in manufacture
  • The product is inherently dangerous because of false claims or because of lack of information about possible issues that could lead to injury

If you have been injured by a defective product, contact the experienced Las Vegas injury lawyers at High Stakes Injury Law today for more information on how to recover damages for your injuries.

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