RENO, Nev. – For the second time in three days, a pilot was killed in a crash Thursday at the Reno National Championship Air Races.
Brad Morehouse of Afton, Wyo., was "killed instantly" when his jet crashed about 2:45 p.m., touching off a small brush fire along the runway at Stead Airport just north of Reno, said Michael Houghton, president of the air races.
It marked the 17th fatality in the 44-year history of the races.
Morehouse, co-owner of Afton Flight Service in Wyoming, was flying an L-39 Albatross he named "Dino Juice," a jet often used for military flight training.
He was flying in the second heat of the jet class competition. He had finished fourth in Wednesday's qualifying round, reaching a maximum speed of 504 mph, race officials said.
The crash, first reported on the Reno Gazette-Journal's Web site, forced the suspension of Thursday's afternoon competition. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.
The cause of the crash was under investigation but race officials said the initial indication was Morehouse may have gotten caught in the wake of a jet he was tailing.
Houghton said he expected the races to resume on Friday.
"I don't see any reason why they shouldn't race tomorrow," Houghton told reporters at a news conference at the airport. "That is what Brad Morehouse would have wanted us to do."
Steve Dari, a pilot from Lemon Grove, Calif., was killed when his biplane stalled shortly after takeoff during a practice run at the air races on Tuesday. His fatal crash had been the first at the races since 2002.
Craig Shelley, a longtime friend of Morehouse's, told the Gazette-Journal he heard about his death while monitoring the races from his home in Mesa, Ariz.
"He was one of the greatest human beings I've ever known," Shelley said.