OCALA, Fla. (CN) – The husband and son of a woman who died when an airplane crashed into the crowd at the National Championship Air Races last year sued the estate of the pilot, and his racing team, in Marion County Court.
Regina Bynum was one of 11 people who died when 74-year-old pilot James Kent Leeward crashed his modified P-51D Mustang during the air show in Reno, Nev., in September 2001. Leeward also died, and scores were injured.
Jerry Bynum, who also was injured, says his wife suffered for 45 minutes from the crash and explosion, before she died.
He sued the Leeward’s estate, Leeward Racing Inc. and Aero-Trans Corp., in Marion County Court.
Bynum says he and his wife were in box seating at the air race when Leeward’s plane, the Galloping Ghost, pitched up, rolled, hit the Tarmac and exploded.
Bynum claims the defendants’ modifications of the old military plane affected the aerodynamics and stability of the aircraft.
He says the original P-51D Mustang, created in the 1940s, had well-known design limitations, but the modifications stressed its trim-trab and compromised the pilot’s ability to remain conscious and in control in the event of a trim-trab failure.
He claims the defendants failed to test the modifications in a wind tunnel.
He seeks damages for pain and suffering, lost earning and loss of consortium for himself and their three children.
He is represented by Susan Seigle, with Dell Graham, of Gainesville.