Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Missing-man formation is planned this September at the Northern Illinois Air Show for longtime show pilot Vlado Lenoch: North American P-51D Mustang, N251PW, Mustang Historic Military Aircraft LLC, fatal accident occurred July 16, 2017 in Cummings, Atchison County, Kansas

Vlado Lenoch

The North American P-51D Mustang “Baby Duck” flown by Vlado Lenoch during the Wings Over Waukegan Northern Illinois Airshow in 2016. Lenoch was killed last month when the Mustang crashed in Kansas.

The upcoming Northern Illinois Air Show in September at Waukegan National Airport was almost not going to feature its popular heritage military aircraft because of a recent plane crash in Kansas that killed one of the annual event's featured pilots and destroyed the popular "Baby Duck" P-51D Mustang.

But the Warbird Heritage Foundation, based at Waukegan National, recently decided to keep flying, making an appearance at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh show last weekend in Wisconsin.

"We did halt flight operations, because it felt like the right thing to do at the time," said Paul Wood of Lake Forest, president of the Warbird Heritage Foundation.

"Now we've resumed with flight operations," Wood added. "We felt it was appropriate to bring everything back."

Vlado Lenoch, 64, and a passenger died last month after the World War II-era P-51 fighter he was flying crashed one day after it flew in a festival that celebrates famed aviator Amelia Earhart in her Kansas hometown.

The crash occurred at about 10:15 a.m. July 16 when the 1944 plane turned around, dove toward the ground and crashed in a field about five miles south of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in Atchison, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported on its website.

According to Northbrook resident Tom Coogan, president of the Northern Illinois Air Show, there will be a missing-man formation flyover at the Sept. 9 event in recognition of the loss of Lenoch, who was a local legend for his past participation at Waukegan air shows.

In addition, there will be staged dogfights with Korean War-era planes, paratroopers jumping with a giant United States flag and trailing smoke, mock bombing runs with explosions, and a jet truck making several runs, Coogan said.

"He perished along with (fellow pilot Bethany Root) in Baby Duck, which has been a perennial favorite at this and other air shows around the country," Coogan said of the Burr Ridge pilot. "A loss like this is unfortunate for not only the Northern Illinois Airshow and the Warbird Heritage Foundation, but for air shows across the county."

Coogan added that while the Northern Illinois Air Show is not exclusively a military festival, "most of the performing aircraft are former U.S. and foreign military fighter or combatant training aircraft."

Formerly known as Wings Over Waukegan, the Northern Illinois Air Show is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. Coogan said organizers expect to draw some 10,000 attendees. The cost is $15, but active military personnel in uniform and children 12 and under get in free.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at noon with a 9/11 tribute featuring a color guard and singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" under a dramatic presentation by the Quad City Skydivers flying the American flag and trailing smoke.

"One of the really cool aspects of attending the Northern Illinois Air Show is the ability to walk around the ramp right up to flyable aircraft and their crew. Most people never get that experience," Coogan said. "Bring your curiosity and questions."

According to a tentative schedule posted by organizers, some of the visiting active-duty aircraft and crews will be available for tours. Among the prospective aircraft is a C-17 Globemaster, which has a takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds, and an A-10 Warthog.

"The A-10 is a jet built around a rotary cannon, and its crew members aren't in fear of entering into front -line, low-altitude action," said Coogan, a former Navy pilot with 10 years of military service during the 1980s and 1990s in the Persian Gulf.

Among the vintage aircraft scheduled to perform are North American F-86 Sabres flown during the Korean War. Also on the schedule are a Warbird Heritage A-1 Skyraider, T-2 Buckeye, A-4 Skyhawk, L-39 Albatross, T-28 Trojan, T-6 Texan, L-19 Bird Dog and Navy Stearman aircraft.

Scheduled to fly in for the show are the T-28 Trojan Horseman and the Yak-52 Aerostar Aerobatic team. Wood said the Waukegan event is, "one of the few air shows in the country that will fly historic military aircraft."

"The launch of this air show is a rare opportunity for families to understand American military history," Wood said. "We especially want to connect children with veterans so that our youngest citizens can appreciate the sacrifices that our military personnel have made for our country.

"The air show is a chance for people to experience what it was like for their grandparents or other extended family members who experienced wartime," Wood added. "Families will benefit from revisiting what it means to celebrate freedom while appreciating the sacrifices made by those who served or are serving in the U.S. military."

According to Wood, organizers expect to set a a new attendance record this year.

Also available to those in attendance will be the on-site Lake County Veteran Memorial Park just inside the airport's southern entrance, which is expected to be nearing completion by show day.

For more information, visit http://northernillinoisairshow.com.


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas
Warbird Heritage Foundation; Waukegan, Illinois

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Mustang Historic Military Aircraft LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N251PW

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA270
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 16, 2017 in Cummings, KS
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN/AERO CLASSICS P 51, registration: N251PW
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 16, 2017, about 1020 central daylight time, a North American Aero Classics P-51 D airplane, N251PW, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain 2.5 miles northeast of Cummings, Kansas. The airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan had been filed for the flight. The local flight departed the Amelia Earhart Airport (K59), Atchison, Kansas, about 1005.

According to several witnesses located between K59 and the accident site, the airplane was observed performing aerobatics at a high altitude. A witness, located further to the south of K59, and several hundred feet from the accident location, observed the airplane fly over nearby power lines between 25 ft and 30 ft above the ground. The airplane pitched up to climb in a near vertical attitude and then the nose turned to the left and the airplane turned and pitched down in a nose low attitude. The airplane descended towards terrain and just prior to impacting the ground the tail of the airplane came up. 

The airplane impacted the ground just short of a grove of trees. A large crater marked the initial ground impact point and contained bent and torn metal, the engine, transmission, and propeller assembly. The empennage and fragmented pieces of the fuselage were located 25 feet northwest of the propeller assembly. Fragmented pieces of both wings, the rudder, and the fuselage were scattered in the debris field that extended over 400 feet from the initial impact point. 

The closest official weather observation station was located 25 miles northeast of the accident site near St. Joseph, Missouri. The weather observation taken at 1053 recorded the wind at 230° at 4 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition clear of clouds, temperature 29° Celsius (C), dewpoint temperature 24° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.06 inches of Mercury.

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