The final Reno Air Race event was cut short after two T-6 Texan pilots collided mid-air, resulting in both pilots passing away at the scene.
In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) said that it was “heartbroken” to announce that the two pilots involved in the incident have passed away.
“Both expertly skilled pilots and Gold winners in the T-6 Class,” the association continued, adding that both pilots’ families were notified following the tragedy.
“There were no civilian casualties and RARA is doing everything we can to support the families and friends of the involved pilots,” RARA added, saying that after discussions with other attendees and families, it canceled the remaining races of the event.
In a separate statement, the United States (US) National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB) said it was “investigating a mid-air collision in Reno, Nevada involving a North American T-6G and a North American AT-6B”.
Videos shared on X (formerly Twitter) showed emergency services attending the crash site, where the two aircraft wrecks lay on the ground.
NEWS: Two pilots are dead after their planes collided with each other at an air racing event in Reno on Sunday, authorities said.— LWNC (@LwncNews) September 18, 2023
The Reno Air Racing Association announced that pilots Chris Rushing and Nick Macy were killed around 2:15 p.m. when their T-6 Class planes collided… pic.twitter.com/ZqdgwmCXMH
In March 2023, RARA addressed its fans in an open letter, stating that “after nearly 60 years of air racing in northern Nevada, 2023 will be the last National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport [RTS]”.
“While we knew this day might come, we had hoped it wouldn’t come so soon. Citing the region’s significant growth amongst other concerns, the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority has made the decision to sunset the event,” the association said at the time.
This is the second mid-air collision at an air show in the US in the span of less than a year.
In November 2022, two Second World War military aircraft collided during the Wings Over Dallas airshow in Dallas, Texas, held at Dallas Executive Airport (RBD). The collision resulted in six people, all on board their respective aircraft, being fatally injured.