Friday September 16, 2011
Just fucking barely. I'm at the air races in Reno with a bunch of friends and a horrific accident just happened. One of the very high end racers, going about 500 mph, lost control and nose dived straight into the audience. The news is currently saying that the plane missed the grandstand, but that's only technically true: in front of the grandstand there are several rows of box seats. It impacted right in the middle of them. I was in a box seat with my friends only 50 feet from the impact. I was watching the plane as it lost control, so I saw the whole thing. The impact happened so fast, there was hardly any sound: just one huge shock wave. No fireball. The plane, and many people, disintegrated instantly, right in front of me. There were bodies everywhere. No crash you've ever seen in a movie is even remotely authentic.
Update: it's already on YouTube. I was in the middle of the dust cloud you see around the impact. They're saying "30 serious injuries" but I know that's a long way from the truth. At least that many died instantly in the impact. I suspect that there were not a huge number of serious injuries. It was not a small airplane. You either died or you didn't. I didn't. My brother and I are still shaking.
Another Update: They're now officially calling it a "mass casualty situation". The plane was Galloping Ghost, piloted by Jimmy Leeward. It was a very cool, highly modified, P51 mustang with a very unusual approach to engine cooling. I doubt that this was at all connected to the accident - it looked like a control system failure.