Video: Deadstick Emergency at Reno Air Races

Race pilot Thom Richard handles engine failure in Precious Metal.

Imagine blasting past the pylons over Reno at 440 mph in your highly modified Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered P-51 Mustang race plane when suddenly — engine failure! You immediately pitch up, trading airspeed for altitude as you scan for the runway. There it is! Feather the prop, bank hard left and head for the ribbon of black cut amid the desert scrub brush. The Mustang drops in for a picture-perfect touchdown. As you roll out, you pop the canopy and give a thumbs up to let rescue crews know you're A-OK. Phew!

That was the scene from the in-cockpit video camera over the shoulder of race pilot extraordinaire Thom Richard during a practice session at the Reno Air Races this year. Released by Richard's Precious Metal race team, the video shows the 37-liter V12 shutting down just as Richard is passing Pylon 3. The trouble was later traced to a fuel system problem.

Due to the 5G pull-up Richard initiates as soon as the engine quits, the video camera's gyro stabilizer goes a bit whacky as the scene begins to wander around the cockpit, eventually going inverted as the twin-prop Mustang turns off the runway and comes to a stop safe and sound on the tarmac.

The wandering camera only adds to the drama of what is surely one of the most heart-pounding videos from the Reno Air Races ever to hit the web.

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