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NTSB: Plane that crashed at air race had camera

September 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The World War II-era plane that crashed during a Reno air show had a forward-facing video camera on board, said National Transportation Safety Board officials Sunday.

NTSB officials also said memory cards were found at the scene of the crash near the VIP section of the show's grandstand.

The discoveries raise the possibility of video of the crash that killed nine people, including the pilot, veteran Hollywood stunt pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74.

Investigators with the NTSB said the cards will be analyzed to see if there is any footage. The aircraft also sent information to the racing team crew including oil pressure and temperature, altitude and velocity. That information could help investigators determine what caused the plane to crash.

According to officials, there are reports that Leeward sent a mayday call before the crash, but authorities so far have yet to find any evidence of such a call.

As thousands watched in terror Friday, Leeward's P-51 Mustang aircraft suddenly pitched upward, rolled and nose-dived toward the grandstand at the National Championship Air Races at Reno-Stead Airport. It then slammed into the tarmac and blew to pieces. Some witnesses have reported noticing a strange gurgling engine noise from above before the crash.

The plane's missile-like impact left behind a crater in the tarmac roughly 3 feet deep and 8 feet across with debris spread over more than an acre.

According to ABC News, astronaut Mark Kelly was supposed to perform acrobatics in the air races in Nevada. He was scheduled to fly a P51 Mustang, the same model that crashed but not the same airplane.

Kelly and his twin brother Scott are both accomplished fight pilots and like to fly old airplanes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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