Eleventh Air Race Death Confirmed


Authorities say an eleventh person has died from injuries received in Friday’s plane crash at the Reno Air Races. City spokesperson Michelle Anderson confirms James McMichael of Graham, Washington was killed at the scene.

Officials have been testing body parts found in the gruesome crash aftermath since Friday.  They have also identified Wendy Hewitt of Fort Mohave, Arizona and  Craig Salerno of Friendswood, Texas, as those among the dead.

Meanwhile, authorities say a Kansas woman whose husband, two sons and daughter-in-law were badly injured in the plane crash has been confirmed as dead.  Officials with the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s office say scientific identification proved Cheryl Elvin was among the fatalities.

Also a Sacramento City College aeronautics professor is offering insight into what may have caused the deadly plane crash at the Reno Air Races.  Kit Sodergren says the World War Two-era plane may have lost a trim tab that would have caused the pilot to lose control. 

He believes pilot Jimmy Leeward was knocked unconscious when the plane suddenly pitched straight up in the air because the force could have been as high as 10 Gs.  National Transportation Safety Board investigators are looking at the tail section of the plane.

Add to this, a newly released photograph suggesting Leeward may have become dislodged in the cockpit as a result of a broken seat.  NTSB officials are examining photos taken before and after the incident, including a picture in which the pilot isn’t visible from inside the cockpit.

Finally, the Salinas air show will go on as planned this weekend following the tragedy of the Reno air races. Executive Director of the California International Air Show at Salinas Harry Wardwell says air shows and air races are very different, adding pilots are required to undergo yearly competency tests, the planes are inspected before each show and they fly parallel to the crowd.

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