Changes Made at Reno Air Races to Ensure Safety

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Amateur video from a witness at the 2011 Reno Air Races caught a plane landing in the stands, killing 11 people including the pilot.


Nearly a year after 11 people, including a pilot, lost their lives after a crash at the Reno Air Races, changes have been made to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Concrete barriers now line the course separating the planed path and the people watching. The grandstands that were previously 850 feet away from the course are now 1,000 feet away, and the final turn where pilot Jimmy Leewards began to lose control before crashing his P-51 Mustang last year, is now less severe.

The National Traffic and Safety Board sought the changes and event organizers followed suit, even creating a position of Safety Director to oversee the changes.

Some spectators FOX40 spoke with had second thoughts about coming this year after the tragic accident a year ago, but, with this being the only air race of its kind, it was too much to pass up.

“We’ve have friends who are not coming, but we are here,” said Linda Dickey, who came down from Oregon.

“It’s not that they thought something was going to happen again, it’s that it would be too dramatic for them to sit in these stands again for the first time since the accident.”

About 200,000 people are expected to check out the action at the Reno Stead Airport this week. The races end on Sunday, when a tribute will take place honoring those who lost their lives here a year ago.

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