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tv   John King USA  CNN  September 16, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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believed to have died, ktvn is reporting the pilot was 80 years old, from florida stunt pilot who has appeared in films, been a pilot much of his life, not clear how many other people were killed or injured. we are waiting for a press conference to begin, we believe that will begin momentarily. we will take it live to get the latest information. meantime, we want to show you what was caught on tape.
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look at the left side of your screen. as you look at this you will see the plane coming straight down before that person's head get notice way. we will continue to show that to you just so you get a sense of the speed with which it was traveling and the direction, heading straight down, should have been traveling in a horizontal position as other planes were during this race. crashing to a box seat area in front of the main grandstand. the plane, a p-51 mustang, a world war ii era fighter plane known as the gal long ghost. the pilot, mr. leeward, was competing at the national championship air races and air show at the reno stead airport. witnesses say his plane was about 400 to 500 feet in the air when it nosedived. the regional medical center confirm it had has received a total of 21 parents so far. joining me now is fred schultz, he witnessed the crash, a pilot himself. fred, what did you see? >> well, what i seen, we looked up above the grandstands and he
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was in trouble and coming straight down. i think he was trying to do whatever he could right up to the end. i could hear the engine of the plane changing rpms and it just happened so fast. i thought he was coming in on top of us. instead, he missed us by about 100 feet and went out into the box area in front of us. >> and there was no fireball as a result, right? >> no. i was sort of surprised p you know, we are all kind of like a deer in the headlights. i have been coming to the air races for over 20 years. as a matter of fact, we stay out here for the entire five days, camping, go to the air races, but there was no fire whatsoever. so the direction of impact, hard to say why there wasn't, but fortunately, there wasn't. >> did you get a sense of the number of people who have been
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injured? >> no it was pretty hard to tell, you know? after thinking back on it, it looked like, you know, he may have done as little damage as possible, the direction he came in. most of the debris went out onto the tarmac and taxi way in front of the boxes and a relatively small area of the boxes were actually affected. >> and tell me about these box seats. these are for -- there's the grandstand area what are the box seats? >> they are mostly businesses that bring in all their employees out. i think most of them are aviation-related businesses. they come from all over the country and they sit to out there. of then, they have little blowup swimming pools and things like that in this box area, but -- >> so, the prime seats? when -- you said you could tell that the pilot was in trouble. did you see the aircraft when it was flying normally or was your first look at it when it was
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already plunging straight down? >> no, i caught in -- he came over the deadline and -- >> what's the deadline? >> that's -- he they can't come any closer to the stands than the deadline and so, he came over that for some reason. whether he was forced out or he had a mechanical breakdown, something happened that forced him out over the deadline toward the grandstands. and then i heard his engine and looked up. as i say, he was within 100 feet, coming right down on top of us. so you know, pretty hard in a matter of seconds to say what you're feeling is where -- it just happened very quick. >> well, i'm so glad you were okay. did -- we understand -- i talked to one of the representatives from the race who said that they did receive a may day call from the pilot, mr. leeward. >> yes, it's very possible. he may have encountered this
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problem, called the may day. i think he was trying to salvage it. you know, these guys, i'm sure the last thing he thought was, oh, my gosh, i'm going into a crowd of people which, you know, it's very safety oriented out here. and this was just, you know, a bad -- bad luck situation is what it was. >> the pilot was a real estate developer out of ocala, florida. we believe killed in the crash. have -- you have been to a lot of -- to air races, a lot of air shows. have you ever seen anything like this? >> well, we have seen, you know -- i've seen three or four now, fatal air crashes, from racers, but this is the first one that's been this close. you know, it is an extreme motor sport goes back to the barnstorming days, inherent
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danger involved in all of it in the plane or in the stands. >> a memorial for the pilot held at 1 p.m. saturday, september 17th, the galloping ghost pit at the reap know stead airfield. i also just wanted to tell anybody who is concerned about loved ones who were attending this event, i saw on twitter saying their loved ones attendeded this event, haven't been able to reach them there is a number that family members can call, 775-972-6663. 775-972-6663. we will put that on the screen later on and air race staff, i'm told, trying to locate an establishment status of anybody involved and again, we anticipate this press conference at the national championship air races.
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listen, i really appreciate you talking to us and telling us what you saw, i'm so glad that you and your loved ones are okay. thanks very much for being with us. >> you're welcome. thank you. >> jim tillman is on the phone with us as well. jim, you have been seeing that video now, what do you make of it? >> after seeing it more clearly, it appears he just absolutely lost it. i mean, that airplane was a rock coming down. it was like -- wasn't falling like an airplane falls. it wasn't gliding, just came straight down. whatever happened, of course that airplane must have been absolutely catastrophic. >> and again, the pr representative for the field said that they did receive a may day call and he said that he believed the pilot was trying to pull up, trying to pull out of
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it but clearly from that video, at the point that the video that we see the plane on the video, there was no pulling out of that. >> no you know, it is possible literal get a plane into a con fig yaw racial where you literally cannot control it and something had to go wrong that made it just literally impossible for him to have any kind of positive control over the flight itself. i mean, you know, that flew out of it, understandable. i'm concerned about the pilot and whether something happened to him before this happened whether he had some sort of a medical condition before this happened. you have to look at medical and they have to look at the mechanics of the airplane. >> the pilot was said to be about 80 years old. that -- there's all right already some people asking questions about whether you know, that might be too old. what are your thoughts on that? >> well, you know, i'm -- i'm a bad one to ask, because i don't believe that chronology has a whole lot to do with your
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capabilities. i think if he was able to pass his flight false and able to go out and fly a p-51 successfully, unless he had some medical emergency, i cannot imagine how that would have made the difference. 80 years old is not -- he is not a young guy, but by the same token, all i have been able to hear so far -- >> i have been reading -- be according to the faa, race organizers at an event like this really spend months preparing for it developing a comprehensive plan. the faa closely -- according to the the faa, they closely examine the race course, the proposed spectator area, they observe pilots' practice runs they conduct examinations of pilot and aircraft records to make sure they meet all qualifications, so it sounds like, jim, as if certainly the faa not only was on the scene, but had been looking after the safety of this thing for quite a
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while. >> they have to do that anderson, and they do a very thorough job of it. they do that kind of work every time you have aircraft or people on the ground, flying anything where near there are some very strict rules about air you're allowed to fly in what altitudes you are allowed to fly during these kinds of events. this was not a common situation. this is not something that's common to air races or common to air shows. things we are going to learn about this, separated from all those other things. >> jim, stand by going to take a short break, on the other side of that break we going to bring you that press conference live in a few minutes. let's take a break. when we set you up with that little hardware store we didn't intend for your face to be everywhere. but fedex office makes it so easy. not only do they ship stuff, they print flyers, brochures -- everything i need to get my name out there. that's the problem.
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now we need to give you a third identity. you're paul matheson. and you're gonna run your business into the ground. erik gustafson would never do that! there is no erik gustafson. hey that's erik gustafson!!! there is no erik gustafson!!!!! [ male announcer ] small business solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. just joining us, a plane crash in reno, nevada, mass casualties, number unknown now. a plane crashed into the box seat area at the national air races.
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the pilot's name, jimmy leeward, real estate developer, stunt pilot, from ocala, florida. you see the crash there no official confirmation but does appear he was killed in the crash and a memorial is planned tomorrow at the airfield. just yesterday, he had this to say about the upcoming race. >> right now, i think we are calculated out, as fast as anybody in the field, or maybe even a little faster, but to start with we really didn't want to show our hand until about saturday or sunday. we have been playing poker since last monday. so it's ready -- we are ready to show a couple more cards, see on friday what happens and saturday, we will probably go ahead and play our thirds aand on sunday, we will do our fourth ace. >> his dad was a pilot, avenues pilot all his life. joined once again on the phone by jim tillman, retired airline pilot. also cnn reporter kelly smooth
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is live on the scene in rein he know you just talked to an eyewitness. what did they say? >> yeah, i was -- i was arriving here this evening after crash, a couple of amateur pilots themselves from ontario who witnessed the crash, they said galloping ghost that p-51 was coming out of that last turn, looked like it either hit a stall or that something happened and that he lost control of the aircraft. pitched up. he said it was upside down, did a half-loop, waivered a few times, appeared tried to get control and then they said that he actually headed straight down into the ground, right in front of the grandstands, into those boxes where people are able to buy boxes for friends and family and they sit out in front of the grand stands, closer to the airfield, closer to the planes, they get a better shot, a better view of the planes during the air races. he said these two gentlemen from canada, the sound of the impact of the crash was just up
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believable. one person described it as absolutely sickening and that they thought the implications of this crash was pretty serious. governor sandoval is on his way now to be joined for a press conference that we are waiting for here at the airport. after the crash, these two witness as well said it that there was just debris flying everywhere. they were actually located in the pits section of the air races where the planes get their maintenance done, that people can buy ticket to walk around in the pits air to look at the planes to talk to the crews, take pictures and they were -- these two witnesses were stand when they saw the two planes coming around in the last heat for the day with these -- be what they call the unlimited, which is modified air -- airplanes that can race up to 500 miles an hour and more. the way that they described it the actual race that was going, another p-51 nicknamed "strayga"
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was far in the lead but "galloping ghost" the plane crashed was close and fighting for second place with another plane nicknamed "rare bear," so, "straga" was far in the lead but "gal long ghost" and "rare bear" were fighting for second when they came into the last turn and the crash happened. they were, like i snarktd pits, they said they did not see the actual crash but they saw the last turn and the plane head into the ground just did not see the actual impact, but they did see debris flying everywhere, there were hundreds of people in the stands who sought whole thing but that there were no indications before that last turn that there were any problems with the plane. the crowd reaction, they said, that was they couldn't believe what they saw and that the first thing one of the witnesses said is we just saw a lot of people die. these two gentlemen who came here, amateur pilot, as i said.
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third will they are spectators, they come down from canada, enjoy it every year. afterwards, they were just wandering around the airfield sort of in disbelief. >> understandable. >> they didn't feel right, they felt numb, as they described it and so, now we are waiting for the rein know air racing association ceo and president and the governor to immediate mete and to have a press conference and let us know what the latest -- >> kelly, we are going to bring -- we are going to bring that you press conference to our viewers as soon as it occurs. kelly, stick with us. roland and karen schulman joining us on the phone from lake tahoe, at the air show, they saw the crash, appreciate you both being with us. what did you -- what did you see? >> yes anderson, thanks for having us on. my wife and i were watching the air races. we had been there all day.
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and we were on the from the row of the grandstand, the way the field was set up, you had multiple actions, a through f or g, and box seats in front of t we were in the grandstand, but on the front row, up against the seats. as we were watching, think it was the final heat of the day the plane was coming around, the announcer called out that one of the planes was pulling up so most of the people were watching the rest of the planes but i let my eyes go -- follow the plane as it was taking up and going over almost vertically, as it was pulling up over the grandstands. he was clearly trying to clear the grandstands. as we watched it it was one of those events you hear people describing accidents like this where everything seemed like it was in slow motion. the plane came to a stall. i realized he was not going to clear the grand are stands. i shouted to my wife, "he's not
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gonna make it. get down!" we both hit the ground on the front row of these grandstands that you're seeing and heard the impact. i looked over, i saw the debris flying off from the impact zone. heard the shrapnel zipping off the metal, aluminum grand stands and there was just a hushed silence and a bunch of "oh, my god," what's going on? as i heard the last of the debris field -- the debris fall from the impact field, we both stood up, looked over at the impact area and i could see where the box seats had been were decimated. it was pretty horrific. lots of sobbing echoed through the stands. my wife was really devastated by it in particular. i have a military background and i been in near-death experiences before so it didn't have the same impact on me, but i comforted her. we thought the best thing to do
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would be to get out of harm's way, get out of the way of first responded that were going nobody that area and so we left the grandstands at that point very much in shock. >> do you have any sense of numbers of people who were injured, just based on what you saw? >> you know it is hard to say. we were trying to tune in on the radio just to hear if it had been verified. i saw multiple people down in the area where the plane hit and these box seats f you have gone shows or events like this, they make these box seats out of these temporary metal or aluminum poles that just sort of separate one ten by ten or something area where they put some folding chairs and get closer to the the excitement, closer to the action, what have you. and these things line the front of the grandstand area. and where the plane hit, those poles were completely unapparent. i just couldn't see them. they had been completely blown away. and i saw a lot of blood did
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people, people standing in shock looking around. they came over the loud speaker and asked people to -- don't come down here, but don't leave, just stay where you are, don't get in the way. and turn your children away from it because, again, it was a pretty horrific sight with lots of blood and lots of very catastrophic injuries, as you might expect. >> karen, if i could just ask, how are you doing? are you doing okay? >> well, i'm still shaking. i'm still shaking. and i'm just very, very thankful for -- if the pilot had any power to take the plane back toward the middle area away from people, he certainly saved us and if he did have that power and i'm really pretty -- very, very shaken. >> as the plane was falling back
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to earth, he probably passed about 100 feet over us and just barely pulled away from the stands. it could have been a lot worse. i mean, it's tough to say that it could have been worse, 'cause it was terrible for the people that were there terrible people who were impacted by it but it could have been worse. he was faulk directly toward us and seemed to just barely glide past us when he hit the ground. had he not pulled out as much as he did, it would have been a whole lot worse. >> my goodness. well, roland and karen, i appreciate talking with you, and it's understandable, karen that you're shook up, both of you would be shook up, a lot of people shook up, even folks just watching this at home. so thank you for talking to us and i wish you well and i'm so glad you are safe. >> thank you, anderson. >> anticipating this press conference, thought it would be in the last couple of minutes, we are not sure what the delay is there is the the podium, we are going to bring it to you live. we are told they are waiting for the governor to show up, as soon as the governor does come, they are going to brief the governor, then going to have a press conference, we will bring that
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if you are just joining us, breaking news tonight, a plane
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crash at an air race in reno, nevada, reports of mass casualties after a p-51 plane crashed into a box area at an air race and air show. the pilot believed to be killed in that crash. joining me is the mayor of reno, bob cashle. mr. mayor what is the latest? do you have any sense of a number of casualties at this point? mr. mayor it is anderson cooper. can you hear me? >> yes, sir. can you hear me? >> yes, sir, i can. any -- do you have any sense of casualties or injured at this point? >> no, sir, we don't have any report on those at this time. the ntsb is out on the field now going through everything but we don't have any numbers at this time at all. >> was everybody injured evac waited from the area? >> everybody injured was evacuated. emergency management team out
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here did an unbelievable job, and everybody was in the hospital in short notice. >> were you at the race when it occurred? >> no i just was leaving my office when i heard about it and the city manager and i and the fire chief and chief of police came out here. >> any idea what went wrong? >> no, sir, not at this time. i haven't been given anything on that and i have been looking for t >> do you have a sense -- seems like ntsb officials, faa officials were at the scene. do you know how many emergency personnel responded? it seems like it must have been a big response? >> oh, we -- we had 7 or 800 emergency people show up in a matter of minutes. a matter of minutes? that's remarkable. >> yes, we did. it's -- that's what we train on
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all the time and you're -- you couldn't believe how fast they came and how the ambulance service and then the air national guard helped with helicopters and the ambulance service has helicopters and they were transporting people and citizens. some of the soldiers that were out here went over and help hadded with all the had ed with -- and whepd helped with all the patients, helped we having i have seen, i was out here 20 minutes after it all. watching the people and the way theyed was magnificent. >> mayor, i appreciate you being with us. i know it is a busy night for you. we will let you get back to your work. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> got another person who was there an eyewitness, ben kissell. ben what did you see, ben? >> well, anderson, to be honest, the gentleman that went before the mayor gave an accurate account, but i had a different vantage point. >> where were you? >> i was actually right
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underneath the plane as it was coming in. and i'm getting a little bit emotional talking about it because it was a horrendous thing to witness. but i really just want to say this. i think that that pilot in the last two seconds pulled up because he saw the bleachers and i would guess he probably saved 2 to 300 other people. and i don't mean any disrespect to the injured, but i would consider him to be a hero because he was going for the bleachers and he pulled up and did what i think was his best job to hit had the tarmac. >> explain that for the folks not familiar with the layout of this there are box seats which are kind of more on the field closer to the race path than the bleachers, right? >> yes. what it was, there is just your standard bleachers and looked to be about a 10 to 12-foot walkway between the bleachers and the boxes and then about 30 feet from there were boxes and
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probably the boxes were about 12 by 12 and there were tables i and chairs and kind of -- each box was divided by a velvet rope and i would guess -- i was about 100 feet from the crash site and i would think that the plane hit right at about the middle of those boxes. >> so, you're saying the last two seconds or so you saw the plane -- you could tell he was trying to -- trying to move the aircraft? >> well, what happened is he came around the last turn into the straightaway and he had just passed another plane and i heard the announcers say something like it looks like be somebody's gotten off path or off course and he flew right above us. and to me, at first, i thought he was just kind of getting out of the race and then i thought it looks like he was doing some kind of ar trick are but the plane didn't stall, the engine stayed on the whole time.
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the plane nosed down toward the bleachers and i can't understate enough that it was my belief the pilot sought bleachers and did everything he could to avoid the crowd. >> and after -- what else -- when the plane crashed, what did you see happen? >> what happened is the plane hit the tarmac and there was a big cloud of dust. it wasn't smoke. i didn't see any fire surprisely, plane hit at a very high rate of speed. >> that big cloud we are seeing that's dust? >> i think it's dust, it dissipated within about five seconds and we could see a lot of people were injured, a lot of people laying on the ground and a lot of people coming over to
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help and i want to give a hats off to the emergency crew. i think they did a great job handling the problem and they came right in and started working with people right away. >> and did he have any sense of -- i mean, obviously accurate numbers at this point are very hard to come by, we haven't wanted to speculate at all, but what did you, yourself, see? >> i don't want to speculate on that either. >> sure. fair enough. >> i saw just a horrible accident. it was an unbelievable great day up until that point. you know, i saw a lot of people injured. i saw a lot of people helping other people. but i'm not in a position to speculate at all we will leave that to the professionals. >> listen, it's good to get everybody's vantage points, everybody sees things from a different angle. so ben, we appreciate talking to you. >> can i tell you one more thing, anderson? >> yeah of course, ben. >> i can't understate enough that i'm -- i was watching the plane it is a p-51 mustang, i'm fan of that aircraft and i really just want to say that it is by the grace of that i'm talking to you right now and this pilot saved a lot of people's lives and i just want
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to make sure that is a report. i know that there's people hurt. i know that he is there a probably people that didn't make it but this could have been so much worse. >> yeah. that is a good perspective to v you said you were a fan of the airplane what about this airplane makes you a fan? i mean, tell me about this p-51? >> well it is my opinion that the p-51 helped us win world war ii. and you know, is a great design, great aircraft, it was a beautiful plane flying in the sky. there are few in the race. so that's what make mess a fan of it. >> right. >> i think it basically is a good sign of america t is a great airplane. helped us win world war ii. >> we are looking at some beautiful pictures of a p-51 right now, mustang. >> yeah, a beautiful airplane. >> especially with the kind of background. ben, again, appreciate you being with us and i'm so glad, as you said, that you were safe today and as you said it could have been worse. i want to take a quick break, we are await august press conference with the governor,
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faa officials, ntsb officials, race officials, been waiting for quite some time. we anticipate it being within the next few minutes so stay -- stick around for that we are going to take a short break. our coverage continues. y husbad a falcon? thanks for the falcon. i didn't buy anyone a falcon. sure, you did. you saved us a lot of money on auto insurance. i used that money to buy a falcon. ergo, you bought me a falcon. i should've got a falcon. most people who switch to state farm save on average about $480. what they do with it, well, that's their business. oh, that explains a lot, actually. [ chuckles ] [ male announcer ] another reason people switch to state farm. aw, i could've gotten a falcon. [ male announcer ] get to a better state. [ falcon screeches ]
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if you are just joining us, we have breaking news tonight, a plane crash at an air show in reno, nevada. reports of mass casualties a p-51 mustang plane crashed into a box seat area at the national championship air races. we are waiting for a press conference that should be starting any minute now in reap know we are going to bring that to you when it happens. joined on the phone by jim tillman, retired airline pilot and cnn producer kelly smooth, in reno, again, awaiting this press conference.
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jim, let me just -- i know you have been listening in both to the eyewitnesss, the three eyewitnesses we have talked to, actually four eyewitnesses at this point. tell us about your interpretation base old what they said they saw happening with this aircraft. >> well, from what those two canadian pilots were saying, anderson, it sounds a lot like it was a high-speed stall. most people think of a stall as being just going too slowly for the airplane to maintain altitude, but there is such a thing as a high-speed stall that is to say you are asking more of the aerodynamics of the design of the airplane and its aerodynamically capable of performing, so, it literally loses its ability to fly as an airplane, literally becomes something that is out of control. you tighten up your turn a little bit too much, a little
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bit hot, a little bit fast and it doesn't take much at that point to lose it. it sounds like once they said that he was trying to catch up with other aircraft, that he was pushing all he could push, pro probably this is speculation, absolutely, it sounds like he looked up and saw that the planes were right there now he has really got to bend it and he doesn't want to be over those stands at that time. bending around, tightening up that town a little bit more than what the airplane is able to handle means that it is possible that you lose your ability to flight airplane, you literally lose lift, you lose altitude, you lose everything he needs. starting out so low to the ground so he has no time, no altitude to do anything else for the rest of the correction. >> jim, getting an update from the renown regional medical center. they received a total of 22 patients they are saying from this crash, nine are in critical condition, vital signs are unstable, not within normal limits right now. patients may be unconscious, indicators are unfavorable at that point for fine people they have received. vital signs are stable for nine people, parent is conscious, may be uncomfortable.
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indicators for those people favorable. two are deseeds. at least two fatalities in this 11 people in fair condition, nine in critical condition, that from the local medical center that received a total of 22 patients. you know, it is interesting though, jim, because one of the other eyewitnesses said he didn't think that there was a stall, that the engine continued to run. >> that has nothing to do with it, anderson. >> oh, really? >> you can have a high.-speed stall with full power, has absolutely nothing to do with it we are talking about the aerodynamics of the airplane, and its ability to fly based upon literally the basics, how much air is coming over the wing and how much is coming underneath the wing. that's what really makes a difference in whether you are flying or falling. and if you get to the place -- and another example would be if you are flying straight level and all of a sudden, you yank the stick so suddenly that the
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airplane began to mush that is to say that the nose was higher than the angle of tack was such that you could not sustain flight, you're in a high-speed stall. and when you do that, everything bad happens. i mean, you are inverted, anything else, because you are literally just -- you are not able to do anything, nothing you can do in the cockpit that's going to bring you out of it unless you have enough altitude and you have a lot of luck and everything else and a lot of skill in order to handle a high-speed stall. but you cannot do that at 3 or 400 feet or anything like the altitude they were flying. >> and jim you can the last gentleman we talked to said he felt in the last two seconds or so that the pilot saw the bleachers and actually, you know was able to move the aircraft a little bit away and save more lives that -- that's possible, isn't it? >> i think that he may have had just a little bit more yoke or control stick to utilize.
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normally, you pull all you got left, when do you that you really do lose it there is really nothing you can do about that at that point. you cannot -- you cannot turn anymore because you have already overturned the airplane, you might same and it is -- it is -- i don't want to get into all the technique of aerodynamics, but i wanted to tell that you a high-speed stall is something that happens in aviation -- >> jim, i got to jump in, jim to go to this press conference, happening the right now. let's listen. >> first of all, our hearts go out to all of the families, the fans, those that were injured today. we are still working on some of those issues as well, as you can imagine. a couple other comments. the ntsb is taking over the site, the investigation and the
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release of specific numbers and different categories. i will say that we had a total of 50 -- >> 54. >> 54 that were engage and have injuries. they have all been transported. the hospitals are providing some information as they see fit. but of those numbers, those are just the ones that are injured and were transported. we do not have a final count as far as the number of deceased. and the ntsb has -- as i said, they have taken it over and they will be releasing those numbers as they have them, along with medical examiner. there are some that have been deceased. some people's status has changed
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from the time they left the field. i do want to clarify, clear up one thing, that i missmoke -- misspoke and jimmy lee would be mad at me, he was only 74. all of his medical records and everything were up to date, spot on and jimmy was a very experienced and talented, qualified pilot. the family process is still moving along and i'm not certain if they will hold a public memorial. i -- speaking as best i can for knowing the grief that they are going through and knowing them personally that they will probably not want it very public. they will want to come to some personal closure with their friends and other folks. so timing and where, i'm not positive what's going to take place. we are working on getting together a more public memorial that -- actually the air is
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doing that we are all devastated by this tragedy and you we are doing everything we can to move along and communicate and work with the folks that are directly and as versely affect dversely affected by this i will take questions if you like. >> how many are in critical condition? >> have yo have that specific number. >> how many are confirmed [ inaudible ] >> i don't have that specific number i'm allowed to release. >> was the plane flying too close to spec taters? >> new york the plane was flying on its course. speculation has gone on a different -- a number of different areas as to what took place. different people see different things but there appeared to be some problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control and we all know what the end result was on that.
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>> kelly smooth from cnn what does this mean for the air race this year and years come? >> this year, our board is all 100% concurrence that in spite of the family's wishes that we continue with the event for this weekend with weekend, we are going to choose choose to to close it. >> years to come what do you think? >> we will take it one day at a time. >> you say the ntsb will remain at the scene, will this be closed to all airport traffic? >> the airport is closed to all air traffic. we are hopeful to have some information regarding outbound traffic by tomorrow morning. there are a lot of aircraft that are here that would like to leave, no doubt, especially since the event is canceled. so, they are going to remain on site until they finish their work. they are very thorough and they are going to work at their schedule. >> any idea how long?
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a week? days? >> it -- you know, it -- it really depend he is s. i couldn't speak for how long and fast they will work. they will do their job and finish it. they do have somebody coming in from washington, who is a board member and their team will lead the communications process as well as the investigative process. >> you believe this was a mechanical issue? >> that's what i'm hearing. the best knowledge that we have got, we haven't had a chance to look or see any photographs to begin analyzing. the ntsb is going to capture anything that we have got access to to specifically try and identify it. what i'm telling you is what hearsay has flown forward. >> mike this isn't the first deadly crash at the air races. how has the response tailed to today knowing you guys have been there before? >> we have had different -- every incident is different. what we try to do each year is to go through a mass casualty
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exercise as an organization. we do that every two years and we set up different scenarios that we work on those processes. from the standpoint of everything that we should have done after incident took place, reno, the entire community came together and did a job and the most professional way possible. if you look at the timing numbers, it was incredible. in 62 minutes from the the time the incident took place, it was secure. that's remarkable when you look at the level of mass casualty. >> pilots recovered, removed from the scene? >> i don't have that information yet and his wife asked met same thing h. >> noticed about 45 minutes up, a lot of planes in this were headed south so that coincidental or were planes being told to go some place else or anything about that? >> any planes that were
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scheduled to come in here going to come in were always rerouted and probably rerouted to reno-at a home. >> the first time a crash has involved spectators? >> yes it s. >> can you clarify exactly where the plane hit, what part of the grandstand? >> it was not the grand stands, it was on the tarmac, the area where we have box seat he is. a little bit east of center. >> going forward, do you have any idea whether people will remain seated there or is that something you will look at the in the coming year? >> that's way too far in advance for us to look at. >> talking to the pilots who were also in this heat that maybe were behind, ahead, are they adding any insight into what went on? >> no we haven't gotten any feedback from them as of yet but we are having a meeting with individual race classes tomorrow to discuss a number of these types of issues. >> can you talk about what kind of guy jimmy was, what he meant to the air racing commune i? >> a close personal friend.
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well liked. jimmy was jimmy. great guy. great family man. very active in aviation. a member of the board of experimental aircraft association. did the lot of stunt flying for movies. >> have you ever been an airline pilot or a military pilot? >> i'm not sure of his military background. he was not a commercial pilot. >> he has flown in the races before. do you know how many years? >> since -- >> '75. >> '75 was his first race. >> can you describe the plane more, what it looked like? >> just take a look at the program. it is a p-51 base. its flown here a number of names the past and prepared the airplane to bring it back this year. >> an estimate of how many spectators were here today?
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>> you know, i apologize, i haven't gotten that number at all, i haven't had a chance to recap those numbers. it was a very good friday. >> how many can it hold? how many typically are here? >> on the grandstands, we can hold 10,000 permanent grandstands, 10,000 temporary grandstands, 3 to 400 down in the box seat area and then numerous counts from -- for two miles along the -- one of the capability of the holding 60 to 75,000 people here. >> families scrambling that knew they had family here at the races, anyone been reported missing, a chance that that to go up? >> we have gotten some calls from people around the world. this is an international event. and we want to provide the best possible contact information so we can give them information about people that they are looking for. wash shaw county emergency operations center is establishing a phone number and i'm kind of hoping that somebody whispers it in my ear very shortly and we will ask to you
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please pass that number out in all your reports so that they have a central point now that they can call in that's manned by professionals that are equipped to garrett information and then disseminate the information and work through the emergency process. >> was the pilot's family here today? did they witness the crash? >> yes, sir. >> how many members of the family were here? >> i'm not sure how many were here. jimmy's got a pretty good-sized family. >> mike, this is a dangerous sport, these planes fly at high speed, can you talk about the acceptance of the risk the pilots take when they get in these planes and fly every year? >> every race pilot understands the risks. they are perhaps the best pilots in the entire world. they are most -- >> listening to a press conference, trying to give whatever information they are willing to release. the headline out of this press conference really is that 54 people have been injured in this crash. we know the extent of those injuries.
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we know one of the hospitals has received 22 of those people. of those, two of them have died. 11 are in fair condition. nine are in critical condition. that was a statement from the hospital that's about now an -- an hour and a half old we don't have an update. we know two people died of the 22 who went to that one medical center there are another 32 people who went to other facilities. we do not know the status of those 32 other people. also, you just heard that the family of the pilot was -- the pilot, jim leeway, he was 74 years old, reports said he was 80, he was 74 years old, his family was at the race today did see the crash. i'm told we are getting new video just in showing the crash from another angle. let's take a look at what we see. i'm seeing this for the first time, as you are. this is -- this looks like the debris after crash. jim -- jim tillman, retired
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airline pilot, you are joining us, listening to the press conference as well. anything you heard out of it that you think is worth mentioning? >> yes and no i think the thing that, of course, comes to my mind about what it was like in that cox ckpit. it has all the characteristics of a high-speed stall. one other factor that i think your listeners need to know about, you have to realize that this race takes place at just a few feet off the ground. i mean, you are talking 40, 50 feet off the ground, to okay? and speed of the aircraft is pretty close to 500 miles an hour, about 400 knots or 50 or whatever else. so you only have microseconds to make any decision about whatever you're going to do. and just the normal race, without anything going wrong, without any mechanicals, without anything else happening to you.
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so, from what i understand, it sounds like this pilot did everything he could do, under the circumstances. maybe he hit a high-speed stall. maybe he had a mechanical that was part of that whole affair. who knows. it does sound like he was working hard to evade the possibility of bringing that airplane into the crowd. >> hmm. it is a tragedy for the family of jim leeway and all those who have been killed and injured, the full number, of course, more will be known in the hour and days ahead. jim, i appreciate it appreciate all those who we have talked to tonight on the phone, just been talking to jim tillman, retired airline pilot. we will be right back. a right. we were actually thinking, maybe... we're going to hike up here, so we'll catch up with you guys. [ indistinct talking and laughter ]
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