9 Killed, At Least 58 Injured After ‘Galloping Ghost’ at Reno Air Races Sept. 16


High Definition video of the crash of ‘Galloping Ghost’ P-51 at Reno Air Races on September 16, 2011.

Update: 9 killed; the pilot and eight spectators. Late Saturday eight are in critical condition and nine are in serious condition.

Early report is that three people, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala Fla., flying the P-51 ‘Galloping Ghost’, died in the crash at the Reno National Championship Air Races. At least 58 were injured, with 12 in critical condition.

John Cudahy, the president of the International Council of Air Shows, said Friday that no spectators have died at any air show in the country since 1952. Every year, there are more than 325 air shows in the United States and Canada, drawing up to 12 million spectators. He said there have been three pilot fatalities at air shows this year, but none in the three preceding years.

Several people noticed the plane was off course before it crashed. Some pilots and mechanics in the pit are reported third-hand to have seen something come off of the back of the plane — possibly an elevator trim tab.

The P-51 disintegrated on impact without flames, sending shrapnel and large pieces of the aircraft into the crowd. The impact with plane pieces and the impact shock wave is reported to have torn limbs off bodies and blown clothes off of some victims.

A vintage fighter plane plunged into the edge of the grandstands Friday during a popular air racing show, killing three people, injuring more than 50 spectators and creating a horrific scene strewn with body parts and smoking debris.

The President and CEO of Reno Air Races, Mike Houghton, says it’s too early to know for sure what caused a fighter plane to plunge into the grandstands at a Nevada air show, killing at least three people. He said early on that at least 54 people had been taken to the hospital.

The P-51 aircraft has the reputation of being one of the best, if not the best, fighter planes of World War II. A P-51 can cost more than $1 million, even for a partially restored aircraft. According to the FAA registry retrieved in September 2011, there are 65 privately owned P-51s in the U.S.

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