Friday, September 14, 2018

Incident occurred September 14, 2018 at Reno Stead Airport (KRTS), Washoe County, Nevada

A photo of Race 37, piloted by Alexandre Eckmann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taken on September 14th, 2018.

A photo of Reality Czech, piloted by Nathan Harnagel of Friendswood, Texas, taken on September 14th, 2018.


There was a “mayday” situation Friday when two jets bumped in mid-air during competition at the Reno air races.

The planes were damaged but there was no crash, according to an event spokeswoman.

The two pilots involved in the mid-air collision were Alexandre Eckmann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, piloting Race 37, pictured above, and Nathan Harnagel of Friendswood, Texas, piloting Reality Czech, event spokeswoman Valerie Glenn confirmed on Friday.

“All the pilots landed safely and all the planes came down safely,” Glenn said Friday afternoon.

“That’s our greatest concern, everybody is just fine," she said.

The incident took place about 10 a.m. during the Jet Heat 2B near Pylon 4, where race judges may have been standing. It was not visible from the stands, Glenn said.

Investigators were at the pylon area soon afterward.

No injuries have been reported, and the rest of the day's racing was not affected.

Few attendees witnessed the incident from the stands. Marc and Cathi Cross, both from Texas, said they were sitting at the top of one of the bleachers when they saw the two jets pull up into the air as the announcer explained what happened. 

"Then they chased one of the pilots with a safety plane so they could see what was wrong with the plane," Cathi Cross, 54, said. "I think they wanted to make sure there was nothing flammable leaking out before landing.

"They did a good job with keeping safety first."   

Cross' husband, Marc, 53, said he also witnessed the jets fly up in the air after the two aircrafts touched midair. But he said he didn't see the moment the two jets touched. 

Cathi Cross said she and her husband witnessed the moment when one of the aircrafts crashed into spectators in September 2011. 

Cross said it took her and her husband time before they decided to revisit the air races. 

"We came back because we like the air races," Cross said. "Life is a risk, right?" 

Melissa Cable, 33, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., also witnessed the incident on Friday. 

"They came around the pylon and all of a sudden pulled straight up," she said as she pointed to the vast field in front of her. "One of the jets circled around and cooled off and landed. The other had a wing pilot check the plane out and then they landed." 

Glenn said the National Transportation Safety Board took over the investigation. 

The NTSB had an investigator out on the field, and both pilots have been interviewed, according to spokesman Terry Williams. 

Little other information was immediately available from the scene of the Stihl National Championship Air Races at Reno-Stead Airport.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.rgj.com

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