At a Reno, Nevada air race on Friday three people were killed, including the seventy-four year old pilot and at least fifty-six people injured but the total may go higher as some of the injured were taken to the hospital by private transportation. Of the fifty-six that were injured, fifteen were in critical condition, thirteen were in serious condition and had potentially life-threatening injuries, and twenty-eight had non-life or non-serious threatening injuries
The seventy-four year old pilot was a movie stunt pilot and air racer. His plane seemed to suddenly spiral out of control and apparently disintegrated upon impact. The plane was on its third lap. The plane was a P-51 Mustang and was named the “Galloping Ghost” and it crashed in front of the main grandstand in the box seat area causing the area to look like a war zone or a bomb had been dropped. The cause of the crash is not known but they say that there indications that there were mechanical problems.
The area where the plane crashed holds three to four hundred people and the grandstand area can hold over several thousand people. A witness to the crash said that the pilot was doing everything possible to avoid crashing into the crowd.
The National Championship Air Races, which if the organization that sponsored this race, have attracted attention and scrutiny in the past over safety concerns. In 2007 and 2008 there have been a total of four pilots killed. This race is just like a car race but it is in the sky with planes flying wingtip-to-wingtip as low as fifty feet off the ground with speeds sometimes passing five hundred miles an hour.