Jimmy Leeward, Florida pilot killed in Nevada airshow crash has been remembered as a skilled, humble man of high integrity. Leeward, nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost,” died in a crash in Nevada while piloting a WWII-era P-51D Mustang plane. The plane crashed into the stands at the National Championship Air Races, causing catastrophic injuries to dozens of people and killing eleven.
The news shocked Ocala, Florida, where Leeward lived, developed real estate and was the owner of the Leeward Air Ranch. In a message posted to Leeward’s Facebook page, the family said: "Dear friends, we are deeply saddened by the tragedy at the air race today. Please join us in praying at this time for all the families affected."
The officials at National Championship Air Races acknowledged that the incident had sent shock waves through the community. Leeward had a reputation as a skilled pilot who had flown planes of all kinds for decades. The Florida pilot was hailed as a hero as he spent his final seconds wrestling the controls of his aircraft to spare potentially dozens more lives, said eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses say the 1940s-era aircraft suddenly jerked upwards during the third of six laps, before it rolled and plunged to the ground. Some have speculated that Leeward pitched the aircraft’s nose into the ground at full speed to avoid it barreling into the stands after it malfunctioned.
The investigation into what caused a veteran stunt pilot to crash into first few rows of spectator seating could take up to nine months, said the federal officials. The National Transportation Safety Board is hoping video and data recording devices will help determine what caused the wreck, looking at possible human and machine, as well as environment errors.
An Orlando injury attorney can provide guidance if you have suffered catastrophic injuries that left you or your loved one with life-long physical and/or emotional changes.