While on a fuel stop on the morning of September 8th, the Reno Air Racer “Precious Metal”, a heavily modified P-51 Mustang, was heavily damaged in a ground fire. The pilot escaped without injury but the aircraft is being described as a total loss. A post by the Precious Metal Air Racing Fan Page reads:
Dear Race Fans,
It’s with a heavy heart I am forced to announce the end of Precious Metal’s air racing career. She sustained heavy damage in a ground fire at a fuel stop this afternoon.
The aircraft was running fine and I was taxying out of the chocks after fueling up, a gentleman came running and signaled me to shut down. I had no idea I was on fire until he alerted me as it was under the airplane. By the time I came to a stop the flames were reaching the cockpit on the left side and I abandoned ship. There was no time to attempt fighting the fire as we feared an imminent explosion with 190 gallons of fuel onboard.
The fire department showed up after about 12 minutes and took 20 minutes to put the flames out with foam. But the damage was done. The aircraft is intact, but sustained heavy damage.
Thank you for all the support over the years, you are the best fans.
Richard was en-route to this year’s Reno Air Races, scheduled for Sept. 16-20, when the incident occurred. Richard is the team leader of Team Precious Metal. The aircraft was the only Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered P-51 and is based at the Kissimmee Air Museum in central Florida.
These dramatic photos posted to Facebook show the firefighting efforts and aftermath.