The terrifying moment a pilot is hit by another plane on runway

Technically Incorrect: It seems impossible to believe. But the pilot of a small race plane had engine trouble. Another plane continues to take off behind him.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Oh, no.

Thom Richard/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This was a moment when someone shouting: "Watch out! Behind you!" might have helped.

Here was Thom Richard taking part in the National Air Racing Championship on September 18 in Reno, Nevada.

As he prepared for takeoff, his plane had engine trouble. So Richard signaled to the starters to stop the race and opened his canopy so that everyone could see him.

Not everyone did see him.

Richard himself posted the action to YouTube. (We've asked for permission to post the video here, but haven't heard back yet.)

Richard describes on his YouTube what happened next: "Much to my surprise, I saw the flagman run out on to the runway waving his hands over his head as if something was wrong. The aircraft to my right started rolling and a few seconds later the No. 6 and 8 aircraft flew by me on either side. All I could do at that point was hope the No. 7 [center] aircraft would clear me on the center line to my right."

It didn't. The plane hit him from behind.

"The impact was violent and loud," says Richard. "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 an hour."

Watching the video might make one or two people squirm. How either pilot escaped major injury is remarkable.

Richard says he suffered a broken hand. The other pilot was unhurt. Richard's plane -- named Hot Stuff -- is a complete mess.

Richard says he's not upset. "I, in fact, consider myself a very lucky man. Another four feet to the left and I would have been minced meat. Literally dodging a bullet. A busted up hand is a small price to pay. I'll take it. It'll heal. Though it is difficult to type one-handed."

Richard says it hasn't put him off flying in the slightest.

He's a braver man than many.