My friend Gary Barnhill flew the F-100C as one of the USAFE Skyblazers based on Ramstein Air Base in Germany. With his permission, I am publishing his comments on the recent Reno Air Show crash.
Regarding the high G load and the pilots age:
In 1965, very early in the air war over North Vietnam, we were searching for new and more effective tactics. This did not require a lot of motivation to search in earnest.
Flying the F-105 Thud I rolled in quite high on a target with the intent (unauthorized) of experimenting with a pure vertical strafe run. Normal strafe runs were ten to 30 degrees in training. The sleek and heavy Thud hit 1.2 Mach real fast and I gave a good pull on the stick as you can imagine the the ground was coming up rather fast.
The next thing I remember was slowly regaining consciousness and both hands were clawing at the side of the canopy (as in: let me out of here). For a brief period I had lost contact with being a pilot flying an aircraft.
The Thud was going nearly straight up. Consciousness returned in time to recover to normal flight.
George Zigelhoffer advised all three gear were hanging out. Return to base was uneventful.
It was determined that something in the controls malfunctioned and the aircraft pulled 13 g. George observed the aircraft sorta swapped ends and went from vertical down to vertical up.
My point is; at age 29, wearing an inflatable G-suit and being in good health (if you don't count the smoking and drinking) I totally blacked out and was not longer flying the aircraft.
IMHO, the P-51 pilot became unconscious as a result of "snapping" on 11 or more g. One report claims 22 g. I believe the result would have been the same for a younger pilot wearing a g suit.
We sat upright in the Century Series jet fighters (F-100, F-101, F102, F-104, F-105, F-106).
I don't know if the P-51 racer's seat was inclined like a Formula One race car or the modern jet fighters.
I think it possible the small bit of aircraft change of direction shortly before impact was the result of the pilot stirring somewhat in the process of regaining consciousness. The poor guy was just a few short seconds short of recovering.