Spectators watch in shock as pilot Jimmy Leeward’s vintage airplane crashes on the edge of the grandstands Friday.
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.