Third P-51 Accident in a Month Kills Famous Airshow Pilot
Vlado Lenoch and a passenger perish in Kansas
Widely-admired airshow pilot Vlado Lenoch and airport manager Bethany Root died in the crash of a P-51D Mustang at around 10:15 in the morning on July 16, 2017, in Atchison County, Kansas.
The crash occurred 15 minutes after Lenoch and Root departed Amelia Earhart Airport. Lenoch was 64 and passenger Root was 34.
Lenoch was an experienced demonstration, instructor and commercial pilot. He began flying in 1970 when he was 17 years old. He was type-rated on many aircraft and served as an instructor pilot for Boeing on the 747. His most recent role was as a corporate pilot flying the Cessna Citation. Lenoch was married with three children.
Lenoch in a P-51. The Aviationist photo
Root was known for her love of aviation. She managed Amelia Earhart Airport, where the fatal flight originated.
This was the third accident involving a P-51 in July 2017. There were two accidents at the Flying Legends Airshow in Duxford, England earlier in the month.
One aircraft, a P-51B nicknamed “Berlin Express,” suffered a canopy failure during a high-speed pass. The canopy disintegrated and pilot Nick Grey safely recovered the aircraft. This P-51 was famous for chasing a German Bf-109G around the Eiffel Tower in Paris and shooting it down during World War II.
Lenoch flying in formation with an F-35 and an F-22. The Aviationist photo
The second P-51 accident at Duxford involved a P-51D named “Miss Velma” that made an emergency belly-landing in a field near the airport after witnesses reported a loud “bang” coming from the aircraft while it was on final approach to landing.
The aircraft sustained substantial damage but the pilot was uninjured. Ironically, when the Mustang was being transported away from the scene on a trailer following the crash, its right wingtip struck a road sign, causing further damage.