Yesterday, Friday September 16th, 2011, a pilot in the Reno National Championship Air Races crashed into the crowd of tens of thousands of spectators. At this time, it’s estimated that at least 58 people have been injured and 3 are dead. 12 of those injured are in critical condition.
“The plane disintegrated on impact, sending shrapnel into the crowd and tearing limbs off bodies, while the blast from the explosion ripped clothes off some spectators, witnesses said.” – rgj.com
Pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, was one of the confirmed deaths.
“I did just visit the site and it is horrific,” – Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
This was the first fatal crash in the air races since 2007.
Spectators noticed Jimmy lose control of his P-51 Mustang (named the Galloping Ghost) due to a mechanical malfunction. The Galloping Ghost was headed straight for the stands when control was lost. Jimmy was able to veer the plane into the ground, avoiding the bulk of the crowd and in doing so saving hundreds of lives.
Jimmy had been a pilot since the age of 14.
Reno Air Races have taken place in Reno since 1964.
This is the 4th air show in the USA this summer to have a fatality.