At least three people were killed and more than 50 injured Friday when a veteran stunt pilot lost control of his aircraft and crashed into the edge of the crowd-filled grandstands.
The pilot, 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, was killed in the crash, along with at least one woman and one man.
Leeward had been flying the World War II-era P-51 Mustang in a qualifying race when he lost control. Some witnesses called the pilot a hero, saying he maneuvered the plane to avoid a direct hit on the grandstands. —BF
The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate the crash.
The plane, called the “Galloping Ghost,” was taking part in a qualifying round in the “unlimited class” division of the air race when it went down around 4:15 p.m. PT Friday, said Mike Draper, the show spokesman. The final rounds had been slated for the weekend.
The aircraft was about a lap into the race when the pilot sent out a “Mayday signal” and pulled “out of the lap” before crashing into a box seat area that is in front of a grandstand about 15 miles north of Reno, Draper said.
“It was clear that (the plane) was pulling up and was in distress,” he said.