A National Transportation Safety Board team will head up the investigation of the crash of a vintage plane at an air race in Reno, Nevada Friday that killed the pilot and at least two people in the stands and left dozens injured, several critically.
And, says Mark Rosenker, a CBS News consultant on aviation safety and a former NTSB chairman, "Nothing will be off the table when this investigation begins. Clearly, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Now, what we have, though, is video from a number of sources, a number of still pictures, and the ability, perhaps, even to have some tapes (of) conversations between the tower, the controllers, and the pilot himself."
Asked by "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis whether the fact that the P51-Mustang plunged to the ground nose-first offers any clues, Rosenker replied, "A number of things could have gone wrong, either operationally -- it could have had a high-speed stall, he could have had some parts that may have failed - (or) he may have had a medical condition. Nothing will be off the table when the board begins its investigation."
What gets done first?
"They will be documenting the scene," Rosenker responded. "They'll be talking to witnesses. They'll be gathering up the (aircraft) parts. They'll be trying to find records of the aircraft, maintenance records. They will be getting the medical records and the flight certifications of the pilot. Everything will be brought together in Washington for a very meticulous and thorough investigation."
The Reno crash was just the latest of a handful of similar incidents in recent months, but Rosenker warned against jumping to the conclusion that such events should be prohibited, suggesting, 'Let's take a look and find out exactly what happened before we begin the process of characterizing these air races as unsafe. We don't know yet. There are a number of issues that truly have to be studied, gotten answers to, and then recommendations will come from the board. Perhaps it may well be that you need to push the grandstands back a bit, but we'll understand a lot more as this investigation continues."