Faulty tail caused fatal air race crash that killed nine

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The Independent US

The death toll from an air race crash has risen to nine as investigators determined that several spectators were killed on impact as a 1940s-model plane appeared to lose a piece of its tail before crashing.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials are trying to determine what caused the pilot to lose control of the plane at the 48th Annual National Air Championship Races in Reno, Nevada, on Friday.

They were looking at amateur video clips that appeared to show a small piece of the aircraft falling to the ground before the crash. Witnesses who looked at photographs of the part said it appeared to be a "trim tab," which helps pilots keep control of the aircraft.

Reno police also provided a GPS mapping system to help investigators recreate the crash scene.

"Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane was coming off," NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind said at a news conference. "A component has been recovered. We have not identified the component or if it even came from the airplane ... We are going to focus on that."

Seven people were killed at the site when pilot Jimmy Leeward slammed the sleek silver fighter plane, which was dubbed "The Galloping Ghost" in the 1940s, into a box seat area in front of the grandstand.

Leeward, a 74-year-old veteran racer and Hollywood stunt pilot, was among the dead.

A total of 54 other people were transported to area hospitals, where two died of their injuries.