Fort Worth Man Should Have Been At Reno Air Show

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As the death toll climbed to nine people at the National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno, some Metroplex residents told CW 33 News about their close call.

With one, violent crash of a World War II era P-51 Mustang Friday, the lives of nine people were taken and more than 50 people were also injured.

Fort Worth pilot Austin Wright was supposed to be there, if not for a rental car mix-up at the Reno airport.

"It took about an hour and 25 minutes to get everything sorted out.  By the time that was all done, you know, everybody just kind of wanted to go back to the hotel,” said Wright.

Wright is a corporate pilot for Pollard Aircraft Sales in Fort Worth, and had flown a group from Fort Worth up to Reno for the races.

"I really kind of wanted to strangle the guy behind the desk at Enterprise rental car.  Now, when we leave tomorrow, heck, I might go find him and give him a hug, because it is pretty much what prevented us from going out there,” Wright told CW 33 News.

Wright said his reserved booth at the air show was just two booths down from the crash.

"That's only 30 paces away from the impact site where the airplane nose dived into the ground,” he said.

At the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, a place that has a P-51 Mustang just like the one that went down in Reno, aviation enthusiasts like the McDonnell family were distraught about the plane crash.

"Just sad it happened.  It's a shame that we lose those old airplanes like that, and people too,” said Joe McDonnell.

"It's terrible.  It's a beautiful aircraft, it's vintage.  It's a part of our American history.  Just the fact that it was still flying was pretty remarkable in itself,” said Clint McDonnell.

For Wright, what should have been a fun weekend had turned into a sobering event.

"When you stop and think that you could have been right there in the thick of it when it was all happening, you count your blessings,” said Wright.

Wright said mechanical problems have happened in racing planes, but he said this crash appeared to be structural, which he said you hardly ever see.  Wright said the age of the pilot, 74, he believed had nothing to do with this crash.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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