A stunt pilot was killed in front of the eyes of thousands of fans after his jet plunged into the ground and erupted in a huge fireball at the Reno Air Races in Reno, Nevada, on Sunday afternoon, according to officials. Chilling footage posted on Twitter shows two jet planes racing across the Reno mountains in Nevada when one starts losing height and crashes into a field.
The pilot who died was the only one on board when the plane crashed. It's unclear who the pilot was. The Reno Air Racing Association said in a tweet that one plane was involved in the crash and there were no other injuries.
According to the Reno Air Racing Association, the crash happened during the Jet Gold Race in Nevada. Video shows the plane crashing and immediately sparking a fire. Although the pilot wasn't identified officially, he has been identified online as 61-year-old Aaron Hogue, the race's 2021 Rookie of the Year.
The plane initially took off alongside another plane but suddenly started plunging after being in the air for a few minutes.
Thousands of spectators at the event and numerous others who watched through livestream watched in terror as the plane quickly burst into flames as it skidded across the grassy hill and sent flames soaring in its path.
The plane bounced several times as pieces of the plane seemed to fall off.
In the video posted on social media, the announcer can be head exclaiming, "Oh no, oh no," as his Jet Gold Race co-host announces, "There was a problem, we've had a catastrophe here, Thomas."
A judge then raises the red flag as smoke is seen rising from the crash in the footage, and the National Championship Air Races were subsequently suspended.
Leaving Everyone Shocked
At a subsequent news conference, Reno Air Racing Association CEO and President Fred Telling revealed that the Jet Gold Race crash occurred on outer pylon five on lap three of six.
"All other pilots landed safely," he noted, adding that the Racing Association board "express our greatest sympathies to the pilot's family and friends, as well as the race fans."
The collision is currently being looked into by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.
After the race, tributes to Hogue began to flood in, with frightened fans posting their condolences on Facebook. He had "unknown complication," with his jet, according to witnesses, just before he impacted the runway.
According to his biography on RacingJets.com, " Aaron has been into all things motorized since [he was] a young boy, anything aviation was always high on the list! Aaron took some introductory flights at 16 and finally got his ticket in 1987 after spending time in the Navy as Electricians Technician."
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
In 2011, a jet crashed into the grandstand at the Reno-Stead Airport, killing 11 people and badly injuring another 70 at the 49th annual Reno National Championship Air Races. The plane was pushed over its structural limits, according to the National Transportation Safety Board study.
A year later, modifications were made to the races for safety reasons.
A San Jose-based veteran Air Force pilot died in an experimental aircraft crash in 2014 after a wing malfunctioned. A 64-year-old pilot, Lee Behel, died in the collision. No other people were hurt.