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Federal agency to hold hearing on air shows, races

RENO, Nev. — A federal hearing will examine the safety of air races and air shows after a horrific crash killed 11 people and injured more than 70 at an event in Reno.

The hearing announced Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board is not solely related to the Sept. 16 disaster at the National Air Race Championships, but the 47-year-old competition will be included in the review, agency spokesman Terry Williams told the Associated Press.

Chairman Deborah Hersman and all five agency board members plan to participate in the Jan. 10 hearing at NTSB headquarters in Washington, indicating the issue is considered especially important.

It is aimed at gathering information on safety regulations and oversight in the planning and execution of air races and shows, Williams said.

Testimony at the hearing will come from regulators, aviation organizations, industry groups and airport authorities. They will be questioned about safety practices, procedures and protocols.

The hearing is separate from one that will be held to determine what caused a modified World War II-era aircraft dubbed "the Galloping Ghost" to crash into the apron of the grandstand filled with thousands of people at Stead Airport in Reno.

The victims included the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala, a veteran movie stunt pilot and air racer who had competed at the Reno air races since 1975.

Photos showed a tail part known as an elevator trim tab missing as the P-51D Mustang climbed sharply, then rolled and plunged nose-first at more than 400 mph into box seats.

Federal agency to hold hearing on air shows, races 12/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 10:54pm]
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