RENO, Nev. -- Ambulances were parked on the tarmac, ready for an accident. Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration were milling around Reno-Stead Airport, looking for safety risks.
The potential for trouble was so high that the National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the National Air Racing Championships just in case something went wrong.
All the attention was focused on the possibility that a pilot could die, the kind of grim outcome that had occurred 19 times in the past. But nobody expected the scale of disaster that unfolded Sept. 16, when a World War II-era P-51 Mustang plunged into spectators and killed 11 people.