“Another four feet to the left and I would have been minced meat.”
Formula One pilot Thom Richard survived what could have been a deadly accident earlier this week.
Richard was one of eight pilots waiting to take off for the concluding race of the Formula One Class Gold heat during the National Championship Air Race in Reno, Nevada, when he noticed his Hot Stuff racing plane's engine having issues.
In a video Richard uploaded to YouTube, he described the events that led up to the accident. About 20 seconds before the green flag drop for the race, he decided to shut the engine down, and signaled the starters to stop the race. He opened his canopy to indicate he was stopping.
When the flagman signaled to him, Richard expected that the alternate airplane signaled to taxi on the runway would slowly take his spot, but instead, he saw the flagman start running out to the runway and waving his hands as if to warn Richard.
“The aircraft to my right started rolling and a few seconds later the number six and eight aircraft flew by me on either side,” Richard wrote of the events. “His left leading edge shaved off the top several inches from my vertical and skimmed the turtle-deck without touching until it impacted my right hand holding up the canopy, at well over 60 miles per hour.”
The plane’s propeller sliced three gashes of Richard’s right wing, spinning him around nearly 180 degrees, “like a teacup ride at warp eight.”
Luckily, Richard only suffered minor injuries.
“Another four feet to the left and I would have been minced meat,” he said.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.