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Photo Suggests Pilot in Deadly Reno Air Crash Had Broken Seat, Aviation Mechanic Says

A newly released photograph of the deadly Nevada air racing disaster suggests the pilot in the crash may have become dislodged in the cockpit as a result of a broken seat, an aviation mechanic tells Fox News.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused a WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter plane -- named the Galloping Ghost -- to crash in Reno during Friday’s race, killing 10 people and injuring 70 others as it disintegrated into a cloud of dust and debris.

NTSB officials are now examining photos taken before and after the crash, including a photo in which the pilot is not visible from inside the cockpit.

 

 

 

 

Aviation mechanic J.R. Walker told Fox News that the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, would have been seen in the photo even if he had passed out and was slumped in his seat.

Walker, who has worked on similar planes, suggested in an interview that Leeward’s seat may have slipped back, causing him to lose control of the plane.

A key focus of the investigation is also the tail of the high-performance aircraft, which some photos seem to show lost a part before the crash.

The plane crashed at the edge of the crowd, narrowly missing the grandstand where thousands more people were watching. Spectators were sprayed with aviation fuel, but the plane did not explode, and its fuel did not catch fire.

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