Sep 16, 2011 8:53 PM ET
A Second World War fighter plane plunged into the grandstands Friday during a popular annual air show, injuring at least 75 spectators and leaving a horrific scene of bodies and wreckage.
It wasn’t immediately known if anyone died in the crash but a spokesman for the event called it a “mass casualty event.” Video showed a chaotic scene with several people apparently badly wounded.
Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, said 25 people were critically injured and another 25 people were seriously injured in the crash. More than 25 more people were treated for minor injuries, she said.
Kruse said the critically injured were considered to have life-threatening injuries.
Airport personnel and military evacuated other spectators, and several emergency vehicles were headed to the scene.
The P-51 Mustang crashed into a box seat area at the front of the grandstand at about 4:30 p.m., said race spokesman Mike Draper said.
Draper identified the pilot of the P-51 Mustang as Jimmy Leeward. According to his Facebook page, Leeward has raced airplanes since the 1970s. A post on the page Friday afternoon said “Jimmy is starting up right now” and posted a link to live video of the airshow.
Jeff Martinez, a KRNV weatherman, was just outside the air race grounds at the time of the crash. He said he saw the plane veer 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.”
The National Championship Air Races draws thousands of people every year in September to watch various military and civilian planes race.
The races 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.
At least 5 people were killed after a plane crashed into the VIP stands at an air show in Reno late Friday afternoon.
The plane crashed near the bleachers at the National Championship Air Races, said Michelle Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Reno Fire Department. The pilot was reported dead, as were four others.
Mike Houghton, president and chief executive of the Reno Air Racing Assn., said at a news conference that 40 to 50 people were injured in the crash. He identified the pilot as Jimmy Leeward, a real estate developer from Ocala, Fla., who has been racing in Reno since 1975.
The full scope of the disaster was unclear. Officials described a scene of chaos as they tried to assess the damage.
“We have five bodies out there, but they transported a whole load to hospitals,” Lt. Mac Venzon of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department told The Times. “We’re just trying to establish a scene and get everybody cleared out of here, and then we’ll know more,” he said.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
19447 3555194 57
his path of destiny = 57 = Condolences. Heartbreaking. Tearjerker.
James Kent Leeward was born on October 21st, 1936 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Leeward
October 21st, 1936
10 + 21 +2+0+1+0 = 34 = his personal year (from October 21st, 2010 to October 20th, 2011) = Airplane. Pilot. Air races. Plane crash. Explosion. Blast.
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