Pilot Escapes As “Precious Metal” Reno Racer Heavily Damaged In Ground Fire – May Be Total Loss

posted in: Miscellaneous, Warbirds | 12
Precious Metal Damaged in Fire
Photo courtesy of the Precious Metal Air Racing Fan Page

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.
Thom Richard

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.

Precious Metal Damaged in Fire

Precious Metal Damaged in FirePrecious Metal Damaged in Fire

Precious Metal Damaged in Fire

12 Responses

  1. Carl

    That Rolls Griffon engine has always been a problem harnessing it to a Mustang. Hope to see it in the future. Great metal work and paint, too.

  2. Steve

    Please let it be repairable? The pilot has to be the priority and I see he got out ok. The aircraft didn’t fare so well apparently. The emergency services look like they did everything possible to ensure the fire was out and the pilot was safe.

  3. Jim M

    Having gone to the Reno Air Races since 2003, I have always loved the Griffon-powered Precious Metal Mustang. Glad the pilot was able to get out OK. The plane will be missed.

  4. Pete P

    Love the airplane… I pray that you will be able to repair it and fly it again… I grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho… and I was around the Red Baron aircraft a bunch… these are very unique and wonderful airplanes…

  5. Jon B

    Just got back from Stead, and learned on the tarmac that PM was damaged in route. Hope the airplane is salvageable, it would be a shame not to see her race again. Good luck and God’s speed to team Precious Metal.

  6. Gene Roberts

    I have seen warbird aircraft in much worse shape restored; it probably is considered a total loss, but I would be glad to buy it!

  7. Brent P


    I am so sorry to hear that. I am thankful, though, to know you made it out okay. I know Precious Metal was more than an airplane, it was a “way of life.” I hope and pray that one day she will rise up and fly again. Take care!

  8. Derek

    Sorry to hear about Precious Metal’s incident. Glad you’re okay and hope PM survives also.

  9. The fancy aircraft

    Precious Metal is a fantastic piece of engineering, the contra-rotating props are the fascinating.

    Hopefully they can repair the aircraft via gofund.me.

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