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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Edward Helmore

Two pilots killed after planes collide and crash at Nevada airshow

The Reno air races in Reno, Nevada in 2004.
The Reno air races in Reno, Nevada in 2004. Photograph: Welsh Designs/Alamy

Two air-racing pilots were killed at an airshow Sunday in Reno, Nevada, when their planes collided and crashed.

Officials with the Reno air racing association said the crash was a “landing accident” that happened after the T-6 Gold Race at the national championship air races. The pilots killed have been identified as Chris Rushing, who flew out of Van Nuys in Los Angeles, and Nick Macy of Tulelake, California.

“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” said association chairman Fred Telling in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Telling later told the Reno Gazette Journal: “It could happen to any one of us. As pilots we assume it won’t happen to us, but we know it could.”

“It wasn’t a racing accident,” Telling added. “It was indeed a post-race landing accident. We all are curious of how this came to pass.”

The national transportation safety board (NTSB), the federal aviation administration (FAA) and local authorities are collaborating to identify the cause of the accident.

The collision happened on the last day of the air races. The pilots were killed after finishing in first and second place in the finals.

“The truth of the matter is all racers have to have trust in the people they are racing with and flying with,” Telling said.

At least 23 pilots have died during the Reno air races since 1972. In 2011, pilot Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators were killed when his heavily modified, second world war-era aircraft lost control and crashed into a stand.

Erica Simpson was killed in 2008 when the wings broke off her experimental plane.

And in 1975, wing-walker Gordon McCollom was hanging under his plane when it dropped too close to the runway in what one official called a “freakish downdraft”. McCollom scraped his head on the runway and died instantly, the Gazette reported.

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