The death toll in Friday's air race crash in Reno has risen to nine, with dozens critically injured.
Onlookers praised the pilot, saying it appeared that Jimmy Leeward, 74, who was killed in the crash, had maneuvered his P-51 Mustang at the last moment to avoid crashing into a grandstand. But the damage was catastrophic nonetheless.
Kim Fonda said she also saw the plane streaking toward where she was seated in the grandstand.
"I closed my eyes and said, 'I am going to die now,'" Fonda said. "I was literally preparing to die and then he jerked the plane away and it landed like 25 feet from us. I want his family to know he was a hero."
Video of the crash, posted on YouTube, showed a plane plummeting from the sky, sending up clouds of dust and debris. Shocked spectators rose to their feet.
The New York Times has more on what, exactly, air-racing is. Answer: what it sounds like. Airplanes, circling at high speed, at close proximity to each other.
It was the last race of the day on Friday, a marquee event noted for its blistering speeds, skilled pilots and low altitudes, with the planes flying as low as 100 feet, often nearly touching the wingtips of other aircraft.