Wildwood, NJ Vintage Aircraft Race Crash, June 1971

FOUR VINTAGE PLANES CRASH; PILOTS KILLED.

Wildwood, N.J. (UPI) -- Four World War II planes crashed mysteriously Saturday while flying over this resort area on the second lap of a vintage aircraft race. All four pilots were killed.
The victims, who were alone in their planes, were identified as ED SNYDER, VIC BAKER, JAY QUINN and ED MINGES. Their ages and addresses were not known immediately.
The planes were among seven flying in the race, and each of the four that crashed spun out of the racing formation and plunged one-by-one to the ground during a 15-minute period.
At least 3,000 spectators in grandstands witnessed the tragic sequence of crashes but apparently no one on the ground was hurt.
UPI photographer Wilmer White said there was no indication that any of the planes collided in flight, although the first of the four to crash veered sharply away from the others before spiraling and crashing in flames.
The planes were flying over a pre-charted course in a competition sponsored by the National Air Race Association. Each of the planes were AT6 aircraft, used as military trainers during World War II.
The seven planes had taken off from Cape May County Airport on the southern tip of this New Jersey coastal resort area. The competition began on Friday and final events were scheduled for Sunday.
White said the first plane to crash was flying in tight formation with the others when it suddenly nosed skyward and went into a tailspin. It crashed into a wooded area about three-fourths of a mile from the grandstands.
The competition was being held here for the first time. In previous years the race was held at Reno, Nev.

Panama City News-Herald Florida 1971-06-06

Comments

Correction

After further research, I now know that my father was not in this heat. His plane was CF-RZO.

Cape May Air Race

My father Jim Strang was a pilot int that race as well and survived. I was too young to be able to accurately report what happened. I remember the smoke and screams.

Jay Quinn 1971 Cape May air race accident

My father Joseph "Jay" Quinn Jr. Was the pilot of #35 "Jaybird" that flew into the crash ahead of him. His plane was the all bright orange plane

I was a radio reporter from

I was a radio reporter from Toms River covering the air races when the two separate collisions occurred at the start of the event. My recollections are the same as JIM111. I was sitting in the grandstands with a clear view of Turn One and the last leg of the course where the planes approached the grandstands. I counted five planes involved, including the one that landed safely with only canopy damage. A part of my memory is that I was sitting with a friend in front of the family of one of the fatally injured pilots.

Wildwood, NJ Vintage Aircraft Race Crash, June 1971

Many things wrong with the UPI description of the crashes that occurred at Wildwood (Cape May) in 1971. I was there, here is what I remember.
The T-6s/SNJs were parked directly in front of us. They all started taxing out for the race except one pilot who could not get his engine started. A well-known stunt pilot by the name of “Big Ed” Mahler went over and hand-propped the T-6; they got it started and the pilot taxied off at a high rate of speed to catch up with the others. He was one of those who did not return to his parking space after the race. Mahler died at Suffolk County Airport in 1977 when the tail of his biplane fell off at 300 feet. The group of racers flew past our grandstand with Bob Hoover flying pace in his yellow P-51. Hoover peeled up and away to start the race and they all headed toward the first pylon which was off to our right. Before they got to the first pylon, there was a collision, one plane lost part of one wing and went down, right side up, in a flat spin. The other pilot managed to land his airplane and all he had, I believe, was a damaged canopy. The race continued. The third time they came around, two planes collided going into the second pylon, across the field from where we were. A third airplane flew into the collision debris. Three pilots died in that second incident.

I went to the NTSB Website and copied the following.

N1046C REMARKS- NR4 PSN.HIT WHEN OVERTAKEN BY N1974M. LANDED WITHOUT FURTHER DMG (SNJ)
N1974M REMARKS- NR5 PSN,6 PYLON 3.1MI AIR RACE.OVERTOOK N1046C,HIT RUDDER,CANOPY.OUTER 10FT WING SEPD. (T-6)
N3626F REMARKS- RACE CNLD 3RD LAP BY SMK BMB,PRIOR ACDNT 1ST LAP (SNJ)
N5489V REMARKS- PULLED UP,SLIGHTLY RIGHT,INTO N3626F DRG 3RD LAP (T-6)
N9735Z REMARKS- CRASHED AVOIDING MID-AIR COLLISION BETWEEN 2 OTHER ACFT IN LOW LEVEL CLOSED COURSE AIR RACE. SNJ[/size][/font]

On another part of the NTSB Website, I found the following. I have no personal knowledge of it, but it looks like N1046C was involved in a two-fatality crash about 10 years after the Cape May Race.

7/4/1981 WALL, TX N.AMERICAN SNJ-5 N1046C Fatal(2)
PROBABLE CAUSE(S) PILOT IN COMMAND - FAILED TO OBTAIN/MAINTAIN FLYING SPEED REMARKS- ENTERED SPIN DURING MOCK DOGFIGHT.