Two pilots competing in the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., died on Sunday after their planes collided while landing, the Reno Air Racing Association said.
The accident took place at about 2 p.m., during a race at the conclusion of a five-day air show, which was being held for the last time at the Reno-Stead Airport after nearly six decades in the desert of northern Nevada. Organizers identified the pilots as Nick Macy and Chris Rushing.
“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” Fred Telling, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, wrote in a statement on social media. He described the two competitors as “skilled pilots” whom he considered like family.
The races were suspended after the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board said that two investigators arrived on Sunday to inspect the wreckage of the two planes, which they identified as a North American T-6G and North American AT-6B.
The annual air show had been held in the northern Nevada desert since 1964. A series of deaths at the event over a decade ago raised questions over whether regulations were strict enough. Three pilots died over four days in the 2007 Reno air race. And in 2011, ten spectators and a pilot were killed in a crash, prompting a National Transportation Safety Board hearing months later.
In March, organizers said they were looking for a new venue after the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority decided to stop hosting it.