Federal investigators have begun looking into what might have caused a 74-year-old pilot to lose control of his vintage plane, causing it to crash during an air race in Reno, Nevada, on Friday. The crash took the life of the pilot and two others in the stands, and more than 50 others were sent to the hospital.
Terry Williams, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told The Associated Press on Saturday that a team has arrived from Washington to join regional officials with the investigation.
Williams also said it's too early to say what caused the crash. Event organizers have suggested the crash could have been caused by a mechanical problem.
Pilot Jimmy Leeward was a veteran Hollywood stunt pilot and a real estate developer from Ocala, Fla. He was described as a skilled airman and member of a tight-knit flying community, according to reports.
The World War II-era plane, a P-51 Mustang, suddenly slanted upward, rolled and then nose-dived toward the crowded grandstand, according to The AP, before slamming into the tarmac. It then blew into pieces in front the pilot's family and a group of friends attending the annual event.
They obviously are devastated, Reno Air Races President and CEO Mike Houghton told The AP regarding the pilot's family members. I talked to Jimmy's son and his wife wanted me to know that Jimmy would not want us to cancel the races but sometimes you have to do things that are not very popular.
You can see videos of the crash below.
P51 Mustang Merlin Motor Music