Lifelong Aviator’s Fatal Accident is Third P-51 Crash This Month.
Talented and widely admired airshow pilot Vlado Lenoch and airport manager Bethany Root died in the crash of a P-51D Mustang at about 10:15 a.m. Sunday Jul. 16, 2017, in Atchison County, Kansas after departing the Amelia Earhart Airport at approximately 10:00 AM.
Vlado Lenoch was 64 and his passenger Bethany Root was 34 years old.
Lenoch was an experienced demonstration, instructor and commercial pilot who 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.
Bethany Root was noted for her love of aviation that extended well beyond her role as an airport manager at the Amelia Earhart Airport where Sunday’s flight originated.
This is the third accident involving a P-51 Mustang in July following two accidents at the Flying Legends Airshow in Duxford, England.
One aircraft, the P-51B named “Berlin Express” with a Malcolm Hood canopy design adopted on early version P-51’s for enhanced visibility prior to the bubble-canopy P-51D, suffered a canopy failure during a high-speed pass. The canopy disintegrated and pilot Nick Grey recovered the aircraft without further incident. The aircraft had been flown by Lee Lauderback across the Atlantic prior to the accident. This P-51 was famous for chasing a German Bf-109G around the Eiffel Tower in Paris during WWII before shooting it down.
The second P-51 accident at Duxford was 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 on final approach to landing. The aircraft sustained substantial damage but the pilot was uninjured. Ironically, when the aircraft was being transported away from the scene on a trailer following the crash on a flatbed trailer its right wingtip struck the post of a road sign causing further damage.