September 19th, 2011
11:31 AM ET

Nevada air show death toll rises to 10

The death toll from a crash at an air race at Reno, Nevada, has risen to 10, one of the hospitals treating patients from Friday's accident said Monday.

Close to 70 people were injured in the incident, which occurred Friday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said investigators are looking at whether the plane's apparently damaged elevator trim tab - whose breaking apart was captured in a photograph - played a role in the nosedive crash. Authorities do not know why the aircraft went down.

A full investigation could take six to nine months, Rosekind said.

Investigators will be poring over a trove of spectators' videos and photos, he said.

"It seems there were a tremendous number of cameras and video that was captured," he said. "On the one hand, it's an excellent source of information, but on the other hand, there's not a lot of other specific components from the wreckage that at this point we can identify."

At the time of the crash, three NTSB investigators happened to be at the air show - a common practice - and one of them has been appointed investigator in charge, Rosekind said.

The board will look at safety oversight and the placement of the grandstands for the air race, Rosekind said.

soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. AW

    I enjoy Nascar and Air races, but it gets boring to watch them go around and around. The best part is when either the cars crash or when the planes does a nice nosedive into the ground. That's awesome.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • wmskadder

      Your one sick sob

      September 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. T-man

    Waiting for the cause of the crash... Uh, maybe a 74-year old guy piloting an old airplane and doing stunts has something to do with it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caitlin

      Sadly, I'm sure you're actually close to right!

      September 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gary

    On average, 75 people a year die from lightning strikes in the united states. I don't think that many people died at airshows across the country in any year of air racing history.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gaadffly

      Fortunatly for a large number of folks around the country,, it is not possible to be killed or injured by posting uninformed, stupid or tasteless comments on CNN. haha

      September 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Edwin

    Funny how people criticize risky activities and then blindly hop into a car. How many people are killed and horribly maimed every single day while driving? When did this nation become so scared and wimpy? Every time something bad happens, people want to cower in a protective bubble, but not before crying to ban something "risky" that a lot of people enjoy. If you can't handle the dangers of life, stay inside and live a boring life while waiting for your own pathetic death. I'll take my chances and live life the way I want to; don't ban something I enjoy, you cowards.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peter S

    For those technically challenged reporters.. The Reno plane was not quite a "Vintage" plane, or a "stunt" plane, nor a "jet" but a rebuilt Super modified P-51 Mustang air racer..! Wonder why "we the people" only take glib reference to what you say..

    September 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      People would rather criticize and blame, than to do research and understand!

      September 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. james

    There really should be a law against anyone 74 years old flying a plane or operating any type of motorized vehicle. I sincerely hope the FAA and Congress will look into this matter. As a person ages their reflexes deminish. Often times their ability to judge a situation may also lessen. 74 year olds have no business flying. period.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      James, the 74 year old pilot has to take and pass the same FAA physicals and check ride that a 24 year old pilot has to. If he can prove that he is physically and mentally qualified there should be no reason to discriminate. In fact, the 74 year old pilot probably has more experience and a better feel for that plane than a lot of younger pilots.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      And the 74 year pilot has to have physicals more often than the under-40 year old. In this case it sounds (thus far) like a loss of elevator control knocked the pilot out. Would have done the same to a 24 year old. Now as for driving cars, last I checked, _per mile driven_, the elderly have the most auto accidents (or is it fatal auto accidents?) Teens have more, but they drive more. Maybe we should require every driver over some age to undergo a physical as well? Oh, and since you said motorized vehicles–yes, let's get those older Americans off of the riding lawn mowers! And out of elevators.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Ian

      Ian – any civilian pilot can tell you that if you find the right doctor, a flight physical is a joke. And when, pray tell, was his last check ride?? An airline pilot has to be checked every six months, as do military pilots. Civil aviation, or hobbyists, have no such requirements.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy


      September 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • wxwatcher

      @Ian I have been in aviation for almost 20 years and I agree that I would take an old pilot any day over a new younger pilot. In aviation experience counts for a lot especially today when the old pilots actually had to fly an airplane. Today everything is automated and simulators can only do so much. Try to MEL an autopilot ant a pilot has a major temper tantrum.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yo!

      When is the last time you had a drivers test done? What is the difference between a pilot and a person driving an automobile? Oh, that's right, the person driving the car has a much higher chance of killing someone.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shelby

      I beg to differ with your insane opinion! I know people in their 20's & 30's whose reflexes are for crap. So don't criticize a 74 yr. old. Remember, you will be that age someday and you will more than likely think you're still young!! Take a moment & think about that.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • stymie

      That's total BS! My grandpa was flying his Cessna well into his 80's. The issue here is the grandstands were too close to the flight pattern. The spectators were too close.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoFo

      You obviously have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. And it shows in the "logic" of your post.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYCMovieFan

      The MIracle on the Hudson pillot, Capt Sullenberger, was about 58 when he saved his flight from disaster. So when is the cut off point for pilot safety based on age then? Iin fact, I'd trust pilot experience over "reflexes" any day! How about we have a law about ignorant people sounding off on message boards AT ANY AGE. Yup, that's a law we very much need.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      "And when, pray tell, was his last check ride??" Well, you have to have a BFR or get a new rating every two years. There might be some bad doctors out there not doing their job, but I know many pilots that have lost their medical. But in this case, I don't think any of these things are relevant.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      I'm sure you have a vast amount of aviation experience.. ..Just so you know, before this event, the pilot had to be signed off by the FAA to fly in it, and the aircraft had to be examined thoroughly. Aircraft are complicated machines, and machines break sometimes. This is a tragic event, but at the end of the day, this is the FIRST time something like this has happened in over 40 YEARS. I'll take those odds any day of the week, it's a helluva lot safer than driving you're car.

      And as someone that works in aviation..I'd take age and experience over youth any day of the week.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Schwendler

    How close do viewers need to be? How old should pilots be? How old should their planes be? Why fly anywhere remotely near viewers and grandstands? All air show crashes involving injuries and deaths to spectators occurred because they were too near the aircraft in trouble. The FAA is going to spin the heck out of this because, bottom line, there is money to be made in air shows. The facts are: this pilot was too old, too bold, and too close to viewers.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reload

      Ah, the unknowing, uninformed and uneducated telling the aviation world how to operate. It's like going to a car salesman for medical advice. Please stifle yourself next time you feel the need to comment on something about which you have no technical expertise.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TS

      I would fly with a 74 year old long before I get in aplan with a24 year old at the stick thank you very much. This guy was a total pro, an awsome pilot and man. My heart goes out to himand his family. Meachanical failiar will be the cause.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      CNN–and others–get your facts straight. There has not been an air show spectator death in the U.S. for over 49 years. Reno was an air RACE, not show–huge difference. Shows are much more highly regulated by the FAA, pilots generally perform parallel to the crowd line, not toward/over them, and are performing controlled, many-times-practiced routines.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinReno

      Keep talking out your _____. I live 3 miles from this airport (Reno-Stead), I work right down the street and I go every year, (except this year I was going to go over the weekend). As I was walking my dog I did see the plane (The Galloping Ghost) rise into the air, roll over and dive toward the ground, it looked to me (from 3 miles away) as a stunt maneuver as between heats there are air shows. This was not an action of someone that became disabled or incapacitated.

      In addition what you are proposing is essentially the same thought process that will also include: We should'nt drive vehicles because pedestrians get hit and killed everyday. We should not allow planes to carry passengers or fly over cities because they may and have in the past crashed in them.

      I know a person that has had a heart attack at the age of 37, so should the age cut off be 37? Jimmy passed the race's flight physical and that is that. Your pontifications irritate my "I hate stupid people" nerve.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bailoutsos

    Reading other stories, it seems the plane was drastically modified but untested.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gaadffly

    The 74 year old pilot passed his FAA physical with flying colors. He was probably in better shape than any of us posting here. Tell bob Hoover or Chuck Yeager that they are too old to fly and they would probably punch you out !

    September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      so true!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Actually I have a current USAF pilot flight physical so at least 1 person here is in better condition...

      September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Congress doesnt need to do anything. The elevator trim tab is like power steering for us, imagine that clicking off in the middle of a dangerous curve. The age of the pilot is irrelevant, probably a better age to be watching the show with your grandkids but it's not our place to judge. Nothing to do with the age of the plane, pilot etc. It was an accident that could happen to anyone (who has loads of money to race p51s anyway)

    September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Stewie

    Do you wonder why the Navy or Air Force have young pilots flying their tactical aircraft and not as a general rule the older officers? It because pulling G's is hard on the body to maintain consciousness. These air racers are pulling Gs around every pylon. Therefore as a genral rule and because there is no "test" on G endurance for civil pilots to get licensed......they need to put age limits on these racing pilots.......sorry all you millionaire "Top Gun" wannabees...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Not true! It is because the older officers got promoted and are stuck running the wing.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      the Air Force uses younger pilots because they're cheaper, not necessarily better. Why pay a Colonel to do a lieutenant or captain's job?

      September 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Yeah, this statement isn't true. Plenty of our most experienced fighter guys are in their 40s and 50s. Take a look at your local Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve squadron, it's full of a lot of grey-haired dudes.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ballson Chinn

    Do away with air shows, they're too dangerous.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stewie

      Do away with motorcycles...they are way more fact, do away with cars, boats, jet skis, snowmobiles, and most sports.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reload

      Better yet, do away with couch potatoes that try to impose their sterile, riskless, boring life on the rest of us. Everyone who goes to an air race or air show knows or should know of the remote danger that is inherent to attending such an event. Stay home Ballson but don't get in the way of the rest of us who want more and above all, don't try to legislate your risk aversion on the general population. Your name speaks volumes.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      CNN–and others–get your facts straight. There has not been an air show spectator death in the U.S. for over 49 years. Reno was an air RACE, not show–huge difference. Shows are much more highly regulated by the FAA, pilots generally perform parallel to the crowd line, not toward/over them, and are performing controlled, many-times-practiced routines.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinReno

      Do away with eating, you know how many people choke to death every year on their dinner. Ban all food!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. StuntPilot

    Stewie has it exactly right... Old pilots do not have the physical capability to withstand high G loads... He is right, there is no test for "G" loading.... I am a stunt pilot, 57 and in excellent shape, and I cannot take the punishment of G loading like I could take 10 years ago. I have no doubt that he blew out (ruptured an artery) either in his brain or heart. And for the record, a trim tab is for fine tuning so u can let go of the controls and the plane will fly straight and level. It is NOT a major component for flight. Ripped off or not, anyone could easily fly home without a trim tab. The pilot was DEAD long before he hit the ground.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      And what if when the trim tab broke it pitched the plane wildly? What if a broken trim tab cable interfered with the elevator cable? If you completely removed the trim tab from my plane, I could still fly it. But I would hate to lose it in the middle of a turn while flying really fast.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoFo

      You might be a stunt pilot, but you are first and foremost a complete moron.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Risengrom

    It makes them degrade...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bao

    Air shows are a complete waste of gas. They are mainly for the US military to whip its thing out and show it to the rest of America. Those as well as these civilian shows should be banned. How many more people are going to die? Take a look at the video from the Sknyliv disaster and tell me you'd feel everyone was safe at airshows.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      While you are at it, ban cars, motorcycles, commercial airline flights, circuses.... people die and s*** happens. Get over it. Are you French by the way??? You sound French.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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