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Pilot dies in another air show accident; Death toll in crash a day earlier hits 9

The pilot of a World War II-era plane died Saturday after it crashed and burst into flames at a West Virginia air show, the second deadly air show crash in 24 hours.

No spectators were reported injured in the crash that came a day after a stunt pilot crashed at a Nevada air show, killing nine.

The twin disasters prompted renewed calls for race organizers to consider ending such events.

The plane in West Virginia was part of the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team, which performs at air shows around the country.

Officials have not released the pilot's name. The plane is registered to John Mangan of Concord, N.C., and was built in 1958, according to a Federal Aviation Administration registry. The team is known as the Trojan Horsemen and its website says Jack "Flash" Mangan is part of the alternate wing. His biography on the site says he is a former Air Force fighter pilot who won three Meritorious Service Medals and Tactical Air Command's Instructor Pilot of the Year.

The Journal of Martinsburg reported the aircraft lost control during a six-plane stunt formation and then crashed on a runway near hangars, causing thousands at the show to cry, hug and pray afterward.

Meanwhile, the death toll rose to nine Saturday in the Friday air race crash in Reno as investigators determined that several spectators were killed on impact as the 1940s-model plane appeared to lose a piece of its tail before slamming like a missile into a crowded tarmac.

Moments earlier, thousands had arched their necks skyward and watched the planes speed by just a few hundred feet off the ground before some noticed a strange gurgling engine noise from above. Seconds later, the P-51 Mustang dubbed the Galloping Ghost pitched oddly upward, twirled and took an immediate nosedive into a section of white VIP box seats.

The plane, flown by a 74-year-old veteran racer and Hollywood stunt pilot, disintegrated in a ball of dust, debris and bodies as screams of "Oh my God!" spread through the crowd.

National Transportation Safety Board officials were on the scene Saturday to determine what caused Jimmy Leeward to lose control of the plane, and 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 photos of the part said it appeared to be a "trim tab," which helps pilots keep control of the aircraft.

The dead so far included the pilot and eight spectators. Officials said 54 people were transported to hospitals, but more came in on their own. Eight remained in critical condition as of midday Saturday and nine were in serious condition.

Despite the large number of dead and injured, witnesses and people familiar with the race say the toll could have been much worse.

Some credit the pilot with preventing the crash from being far more deadly by avoiding the grandstand section with a last-minute climb, although it's impossible to know his thinking as he was confronted with the disaster and had just seconds to respond.

Witnesses described a horrible scene after the plane struck the crowd and sent up a brown cloud of dust billowing in the wind. When it cleared moments later, motionless bodies lay strewn across the ground, some clumped together, while others stumbled around bloodied and shocked.

"I think an accident of this nature, it certainly threatens the future of the air races," said Doug Bodine, a pilot who has raced at Reno for the last six years. "Both the FAA and [Reno race] will suffer extensive and ongoing scrutiny, and I think they need to consider ending the air races as one of the options."

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