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Three killed in air race tragedy

A World War Two fighter flown by a veteran Hollywood stunt pilot killed two spectators after plunging into crowds at an air show.

More than 50 fans were injured at the event in Nevada when 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, lost control. Bodies were spread across the area as people tended to the victims and ambulances rushed to the scene.

One official said mechanical problems were to blame.

Eye-witness Maureen Higgins, who has followed the air races for 16 years, watched in horror as the man in front of her started bleeding after debris hit him in the head.

"I saw body parts and gore like you wouldn't believe it. I'm talking an arm, a leg," Ms Higgins said "The alive people were missing body parts. I am not kidding you. It was gore. Unbelievable gore."


Veteran airman Leeward, from Florida, who named his 500mph Mustang fighter plane the Galloping Ghost, was later named as one of the three victims.

Medical service spokeswoman Stephanie Kruse said 56 injured were taken to three hospitals. "This is a very large incident, probably one of the largest this community has seen in decades," she said. "The community is pulling together to try to deal with the scope of it."

Race spokesman Mike Draper said Leeward appeared to have "lost control of the aircraft".

The National Championship Air Races draws thousands of people to Reno every year. But they also have attracted scrutiny over safety concerns, after four pilots died in 2007 and 2008. It was such a concern that headteachers once considered whether they should ban school trips.