Dear Sawbones fans, friends, and sponsors:
I write this short piece with some humility realizing that we had a significant “structural failure” during the Reno air races. Sunday I got a call from Curt Brown, our race pilot, that the canopy had blown off the airplane in flight and we were essentially out of the race. Believe me that is a lot to take in in a few seconds!! Amazingly Curt was not injured and safely landed the 400 mph convertible. The canopy essentially exploded, scattering itself over about a quarter mile of Reno desert around pylon 2. The canopy debris impacted the horizontal stabilizer also causing some damage to the leading edge.
Having been to the Reno national air races ten times, we were familiar with various “malfunction” problems but nothing this major. One year we blew off an exhaust stack, another year we had hydraulic failure of our tail wheel retraction mechanism. We have had primer pump failure and other ignition system problems. This however was sobering because it could easily have been fatal. The canopy blew off with significant force knocking Curt’s helmet and oxygen mask upward, the mask covering his eyes. In spite of deafening noise he was able to safely land the five ton racer
We were obviously missing many critical canopy parts. With the assistance of my amazing crew the desert was walked for many hours over several days. We were joined by other volunteers here at Reno, including some of our section 3 friends. Finally after eight multi hour walking sessions the final steel rail parts were found, which will make reconstruction much easier! Ed Ryan discovered the final missing piece in the dusty sagebrush. This damage can be fixed and we will fly another day.
I wish to thank all the members of the Reno air racing community. This includes friends and spectators who have followed us for years. Many have come forward donating funds to help with repair of the damage. Our sponsors have been extremely supportive. We have had many expert mechanics volunteer their services and machinists volunteer their shop facilities.
I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the racing community support, especially the unlimited air racing group who all want us to get our plane back and competing again!
One really realizes how many friends you have when facing some adversity. To all of you I give you my heartfelt thanks....,especially my sunburned desert walkers!
We will let you all know when our beloved “Sawbones “ takes to the air again.
With sincere and deep thanks,
Robin and Jackie Crandall
National Championship Air Races
2019 - DNR
2018 - 3rd Place Gold
2017 - 4th Place Gold
2016 - 4th Place Gold
2015 - 4th Place Gold
2014 - 4th Place Gold
2013 - 7th Place Gold
2012 - 4th Place Gold
September 9, 2019
For the first time ever, Sawbones was required to withdraw from racing at the Reno National Championship Air Races. On the first day of practice, Race Pilot Brown experienced a sudden change in cockpit environment through the loss of his canopy. When asked by a young fan, "what was it like when your canopy flew off," he said, "It was very windy." In fact he was traveling at over 400 mph at the time. Ever tried sticking your head out of the car window at 70 mph? Multiply that by about 5. We're grateful that his helmet stayed on his head, and that he was able to use years of test pilot experience to safely bring the Sea Fury on the ground and back to the pit. The damage to the canopy, and related damage to the horizontal stabilizer make it impossible to bring Sawbones into safe racing condition in time for the weekend. So, we'll cheer on our competitors and other race classes, and plan for our return next year.
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