Two pilots killed in crash on final day of Reno National Championship Air Races in Nevada

JASON BEAN/Reno Gazette Journal via Imagn

Two pilots were killed Sunday in a collision on the final day of the National Championship Air Races at Reno-Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada, an event that is being discontinued due in part to its long history of deadly accidents.

The Reno Air Racing Association confirmed two pilots died when their planes collided upon landing at the conclusion of the T-6 Gold race about 2:15 p.m. Sunday. The RARA identified the victims as Nick Macy of Tulelake and Chris Rushing of Thousand Oaks. Both were described as “expertly skilled pilots and Gold winners in the T-6 Class.”

No one else was injured in the crash, officials said.

“As we always do, we are cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA and all local authorities to identify the cause of the accident and ensure that all of our pilots, spectators and volunteers have the necessary support during this time,” the RARA tweeted. “Additional information will be released as soon as it is available. All racing operations are currently suspended. Safety is the foremost concern of RARA and we work year round to host the safety event possible.”

The RARA later announced it was canceling the remainder of Sunday’s races following discussions with the victims’ families.

“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” Fred Telling, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, said in a written statement. “These two pilots weren’t just an integral part of the National Championship Air Race family, they were a part of my family. My heart goes out to their own families and to all of the spectators and fans who have so enthusiastically supported us this week.”

Twenty-three pilots and 10 spectators have been killed since the Reno Air Races were founded in 1964. The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority cited safety concerns and insurance costs in March when its board of trustees unanimously voted to make this the final year of the air races at Reno-Stead Airport.

“There are four big points and obviously the first one is public safety,” Stacey Sunday, director of corporate communications for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, told The Sacramento Bee last week.

“There have been accidents in the past and this leads to point No. 2 about increased area development. There’s just more houses — and more and more businesses being built right next to the airfield — so just for everyone’s safety, we would like to work in a different space instead.”

The Bee’s Chris Biderman contributed to this story.