Airplane Crash at Reno Airshow...an eyewitness account
I first read the news of this horrible accident on Saturday morning. Reports of Friday's airplane crash at the airshow in Reno were online and on the news. I was amazed at the wreckage that the photos and videos showed. The plane appeared to pretty much take a nosedive, heading right toward the crowd. And it completely disintigrated on impact.
I simply cannot imagine what I would do in a situation like that. Would I have instinctively jumped & run? Ducked? Cried? I just don't know.
My phone rang shortly after reading the news accounts. It was my uncle, informing me to turn on the news. He'd actually been there- he was at the airshow that day. I was a little freaked. He could've been hurt or much worse! At this point, 3 people were already reported dead.
But once my relief set in that he was okay, I began bombarding him with questions.
Where were you seated?
Could you tell if it was pilot error or mechanical? (My uncle is a pilot too)
What did you do when you saw the plane headed toward you?
I must not have been the only one questioning him...he wrote up & sent a memo of his account!
Here it is (with last names removed)
September 18, 2011
I was invited to attend the Reno Air Races by Tom (a friend) and invited Bob (also a friend) to join us. The three of us were sitting in the grandstand--I estimate approximately 30 yards from the point of impact of the Mustang. I was watching the racers coming around the pylon and heard the announcer say, "Oh, oh. Looks like we've got a problem!" I then looked away from the race to see what he was referring to and I saw a plane that had pulled up at a steep angle and was headed down. I have since looked at the videos and and saw the plane pitch up sharply, invert, and then start it's downward trajectory. I picked it up as it was on that downward trajectory and was headed straight for us. I would estimate that I observed the last 3 or 4 seconds of the plane's descent when it appeared that it was going to hit exactly where we were sitting. I can't recall exactly what went on in my mind other than to think that the plane was going to crash. There was no way it could pull out, and I also thought that we were going to be at the point of impact until the actual point of impact where it was probably 30 yards to our left. We all sat in shock for a couple of seconds, looking at the devastation just below us. The plane hit in the reserved area with box seats, tables and chairs, and the impact of the crash went away from the bleachers to an area where there were fewer if any people. The plane clearly was not flying under pilot control at that time, so any suggestion that the pilot was trying to avoid the bleachers was misguided. When it hit, there was an enormous concussion and blast effect, and we could observe that a lot of people had been killed and injured. The announcers were asking people in the bleachers and surrounding areas not to come down to help, that they would only get in the way of medical personnel. Tom walked down, stated that he was a surgeon, and worked for probably an half hour helping. He commented that there was very poor preparation by the medical personnel because they had no equipment readily on hand for providing IV to the people who were losing blood. He also said there was no clear chain of command at the site of impact. We could observe emergency personnel coming in from various parts of the airfield, and very soon ambulances and medical helicopters were on the scene. When we heard the initial reports of only three people dying, Tom stated that could not be, that he had helped put alot of people in ambulances who were not going to survive.
To say it was an unbelieveable experience is an understatement.