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3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

Article about: by davejb Although an absolute tragedy, im afraid i dont agree with these air races, especially with aircraft that are of a certain period or historic, the stress that must be placed on thes

  1. #1

    Default 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash



    Sep 16, 10:06 PM (ET)

    By SCOTT SONNER and MARTIN GRIFFITH
    RENO, Nev. (AP) - A vintage World War II-era fighter plane plunged into the grandstands Friday during a popular annual air show, killing at least three people, injuring more than 50 spectators and creating a horrific scene strewn with body parts and smoking debris.

    The plane, flown by an 80-year-old pilot, spiraled suddenly out of control and appeared to disintegrate upon impact. Bloodied bodies were spread across the area as people tended to the victims and ambulances rushed to the scene.

    Maureen Higgins of Alabama, who has been coming to the show for 16 years, said the pilot was on his third lap when he lost control.

    She was sitting about 30 yards away from the crash and watched in horror as the man in front of her started bleeding after a piece of debris hit him in the head.


    "I saw body parts and gore like you wouldn't believe it. I'm talking an arm, a leg," Higgins said "The alive people were missing body parts. I am not kidding you. It was gore. Unbelievable gore."

    Among the dead was pilot Jimmy Leeward, 80, of Ocala, Fla., who flew the P-51 Mustang named the "Galloping Ghost," according to Mike Houghton, president and CEO of Reno Air Races.

    Renown Medical Center spokeswoman Kathy Carter confirmed that two others died, but did not provide their identities.

    Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, told The Associated Press that emergency crews took a total of 56 injury victims to three hospitals. She said they also observed a number of people being transported by private vehicle, which they are not including in their count.

    Kruse said of the total 56, at the time of transport, 15 were considered in critical condition, 13 were serious condition with potentially life-threatening injuries and 28 were non-serious or non-life threatening.



    "This is a very large incident, probably one of the largest this community has seen in decades," Kruse told The Associated Press. "The community is pulling together to try to deal with the scope of it. The hospitals have certainly geared up and staffed up to deal with it."

    The P-51 Mustang crashed into a box-seat area in front of the grandstand at about 4:30 p.m., race spokesman Mike Draper said. Houghton said Leeward appeared to have "lost control of the aircraft," though details on why that happened weren't immediately known.

    KRNV-TV weatherman Jeff Martinez, who was just outside the air race grounds at the time, said the plane veered to the right and then "it just augered straight into the ground."

    "You saw pieces and parts going everywhere," he said. "Everyone is in disbelief."

    Tanya Breining, off Hayward, Calif., told KTVU-TV in San Francisco: "It was absolute carnage ... It looked like more than a bomb exploded."

    Another witness, Ronald Sargis, said he was sitting in the box seat area near the finish line.

    "We could see the plane coming around the far turn - it was in trouble," Sargis told KCRA-TV in Sacramento. "About six or seven boxes down from us, it impacted into the front row."

    He said the pilot appeared to do all he could to avoid crashing into the crowd. Response teams immediately went to work, Sargis said. After the crash Sargis went up a few rows into the grandstand to view the downed plane.

    "It appeared to be just pulverized," he said.

    Leeward, the owner of the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team, was a well-known racing pilot. His website says he has flown more than 120 races and served as a stunt pilot for numerous movies, including "Amelia" and "Cloud Dancer."

    In an interview with the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner last year, he described how he has flown 250 types of planes and has a particular fondness for the P-51, which came into the war relatively late and was used as a long-range bomber escort over Europe. Among the famous pilots of the hot new fighter was WWII double ace Chuck Yeager.

    "They're more fun. More speed, more challenge. Speed, speed and more speed," Leeward said.

    Houghton described Leeward as "a good friend. Everybody knows him. It's a tight knit family. He's been here for a long, long time," Houghton said.

    The National Championship Air Races draws thousands of people every year in September to watch various military and civilian planes race. They also have attracted scrutiny in the past over safety concerns, including four pilots killed in 2007 and 2008. It was such a concern that local school officials once considered whether they should not allow student field trips at the event.

    The competition is like a car race in the sky, with planes flying wingtip-to-wingtip as low as 50 feet off the sagebrush at speeds sometimes surpassing 500 mph. Pilots follow an oval path around pylons, with distances and speeds depending on the class of aircraft.

    The FAA and air race organizers spend months preparing for air races as they develop a plan involving pilot qualification, training and testing along with a layout for the course. The FAA inspects pilots' practice runs and brief pilots on the route maneuvers and emergency procedures.

    Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., issued a statement saying he was "deeply saddened" about the crash.

    "My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives and with those who were wounded in this horrific tragedy," he said. "I am so grateful to our first responders for their swift action and will continue to monitor this situation as it develops."
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  2. #2

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    WARNING GRAPHIC:

    Reno Air Crash - YouTube


  3. #3

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    Very sad


    ....is the only comment I am going to give on thise, I have all kind of toughts coming up in to my mind when reading thise, but I am going to stick with those two first words.
    |<
    Always looking for Belgian Congo stuff!
    cheers
    |<ris

  4. #4

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    I just got off the phone with a fellow teacher who flew out today to be at the races. Both he and his father are ok, but obviously freaked out and in shock. They were very close to where the plane crashed and were showered in fuel. He said he saw numerous body parts and dead bodies.

  5. #5

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    What a horrible thing!

  6. #6

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    It was a horrible accident no matter how you look at it and one must feel for the people involved.
    I don't want to open a box of worms but believe there should be some thought given to putting a ceiling
    on the age of the pilots where competative or stunt flying and spectatores are involved.
    Flying for pleasure is fine but lets face it most of use here do not have the reaction time we had in our 20s.

    Rudy
    "It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity & make it work for you."
    Frank Zappa

  7. #7

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    Very,very sad and tradgic but I have to agree with Rudy

    Nick
    Last edited by Woolgar; 09-17-2011 at 10:38 PM.
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  8. #8

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    Quote by Stickgrenade View Post
    Very,very sad and tragic but I have to agree with Rudy

    Nick
    So do I!
    |<
    Always looking for Belgian Congo stuff!
    cheers
    |<ris

  9. #9

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    The death toll is up to 9 now, I guess. And probably will go much higher, from the descriptions of the injuries. Lordy, what an awful tragedy, for sure. But, as sad as it is, I have to admit that when I heard about it, my first thought was the same as Rudy- why isn't there some sort of age limit to flying? (but then again, there's none on cars either,so...) It may be all academic in any case, as the witness's seem to believe that there was mechanical trouble that caused the crash and that the pilot did everything he could to avoid the grandstand. Regardless, a terrible loss and a nightmare of a lifetime ahead for many many injured and their families. William
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  10. #10
    ?

    Default Re: 3 dead, 56 injured in horrific Reno air show crash

    Although an absolute tragedy, im afraid i dont agree with these air races, especially with aircraft that are of a certain period or historic, the stress that must be placed on these airframes could be enormous, its bad enough when a proper racing aircraft crashes and that has been specially designed for that purpose, but to see an old warbird being put through that kind of stress, which lets be honest it wasnt designed to race but to fight, and even then too much stress on the airframe led to break ups in the air, I think it should be banned and confined to ordinary display flying which even then has proved too much for an older plane, but without display flying these aircraft would end up in static displays which for all of us would also be tragic and give noone the thrill of seeing them flying

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