RENO, Nev. — Two pilots are dead after their planes collided with each other at an air racing event in Reno on Sunday, authorities said.
The Reno Air Racing Association announced that pilots Chris Rushing and Nick Macy were killed around 2:15 p.m. when their T-6 Class planes collided during landing. Rushing was the defending champion in the race and placed first. Macy placed second.
Both pilots were from California. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” said Fred Telling, Chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association and President of the T-6 Class. “These two pilots weren’t just an integral part of the National Championship Air Race family, they were a part of my family. My heart goes out to their own families and to all of the spectators and fans who have so enthusiastically supported us this week.”
Authorities said there were no other reported injuries. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Officials said they are cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, and local authorities to identify the cause of the accident.
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Final Reno Air Races after 59 years
This year marked the last for the National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport, which started in 1964.
In March, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s board of trustees voted unanimously to authorize its president and CEO, Daren Griffin, to negotiate final terms for the event. Among the challenges cited in the decision was an increase in insurance costs for the event from $780,000 to $1.3 million and regional growth that makes hosting it at Reno-Stead Airport more challenging.
“Challenging economic conditions and the impact the races have on the airport and surrounding areas can no longer be overlooked,” the board’s agenda item said.
After the RTAA decision, the Reno Air Racing Association – which organizes the event – sent out an email saying, “We are committed to finding a new location so that the event can continue. In fact, we are currently exploring several other possible locations to host the event in the future but it starts with making this year’s event the biggest and most successful it can be.”
Contributing: The Associated Press