September 18, 2022 at the Reno Stead Airport (RTS)
September 20, 2022
On September 18, 2022, an Aero Vodochody L–29 Super Delfin crashed at the Stihl National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. No injuries on the ground were reported. Sadly, air race competitor and 2021 Rookie of the Year Aaron Hogue was killed as a result of the accident.
The L-29 was in a tight competition for the overall trophy during the final heat of the Jet Gold race. In between Outer Pylons 4 and 5 the pilot initiated an unusual right hand turn. He rolled out of the turn and began climbing to the outside of the track, then reversed to the left. The pilot appeared to attempt to reenter the race, pulling hard left, which was then followed by a relaxing of the turn and a continuous descent into the desert floor.
The pilot may have experienced G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC)—a condition that can result from insufficient hydration, nutrition, and fatigue. His hard turn followed by a relaxing of the turn and steady descent to the crash is a classic G-LOC profile. Or, perhaps there was some type of structural issue that prevented full control of the airplane.
In Early Analysis: Reno Air Races, the AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI) makes a preliminary assessment of the accident, addressing notable portions of the tragic flight and highlighting areas the NTSB will likely investigate to determine a probable cause.