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Plane crashes at Reno Air Races with injuries to crowd possible

Bryan Alaspa's picture

An airplane has crashed at the Reno, Nevada, Air Races near the grandstand containing spectators with possible injuries resulting.

Reports are coming out of news sources located in Reno, Nevada, that an airplane in the famous Reno Air Races has crashed. Reports are that the plane crashed into or near the spectator grandstands. At this point, there are just rumors and sketchy information that there might be injuries among the spectators.

According to local Reno media reports, the plane that went down was reportedly the number 77 plane. That plane also went by the name of Rare Bear. It reportedly crashed shortly after take off. during the very beginning of the Unlimited race. So far, there are no confirmed injuries or deaths.

All planes involved in the race have now been grounded and races have been postponed while the accident is investigated and anyone injured has been taken care of. There are also no reports on the condition of the pilot.

The Reno Air Races are also known as the National Air Championship Races. It is a multi-plane race where high performance aircraft fly in ovoid patterns. There are several different races, depending on the type of plane being used, and the race courses can range from three miles to eight miles in length.

The Unlimited races are for powerful and very fast aircraft that can reach speeds in excess of 400 miles per hour. These race courses are normally of the 8 mile variety. The aircraft in the Unlimited series of races consist of modified and stock World War II fight planes.

UPDATE: Reports coming from the crash site say that the plane that has crashed was a P-51 Mustang. Reports are also that emergency responders on the scene are describing the scene as a "mass casualty situation."

Media updates from the scene showed piles of what appeared to be bodies in front of the grandstand. It was not clear how many people had been killed, however. Piled in front of the grandstand were bodies and wreckage from the plane.

A representative from the Reno Air Race told the local press that the pilot of the P-51 had crashed into the box seat section of the grandstand shortly after take off. The accident happened at about 4:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Spectators who witnesses crash say that the scene was horrific. Blood and body parts reported in and around grandstand.

UPDATE: Initial estimates are that at least 75 people injured. Reports are that the pilot was killed in the crash.

UPDATE: Pilot confirmed dead. Named Jimmy Leeward, age 80. The planes were reportedly ascending when he suddenly nose-dived into the ground near the stands. The plane broke into pieces and the pieces flew into the crowd. One spokesman says up to 75 injured with 25 of those critical.

UPDATE: Local hospital confirming two dead. More are expected.

UPDATE: Reports now that at least three spectators killed.

UPDATE: All races canceled for the rest of the weekend.

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