Monday, July 15, 2024

President of Van Nuys vintage military plane organization among two killed in Reno air race crash

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The head of a Van Nuys non-profit organization that promotes the history and legacy of the World War II-era AT-6 Texan trainer plane was among a pair of pilots killed Sunday when two planes collided at the end of National Championship Air Races at Nevada’s Reno-Stead Airport

Officials with the Reno Air Racing Association said in a social media post that Chris Rushing, president of the Condor Squadron Officer’s and Airmen’s Association in Van Nuys, and Nick Macy of Tulelake in Northern California, died around  2:15 p.m. while attempting to land following the T-6 Gold race.

“I am completely devastated and heartbroken today,” Fred Telling, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, said in a statement. “These two pilots weren’t just an integral part of the National Championship Air Race family, they were a part of my family.”

Telling described Rushing and Macy as skilled expert pilots, adding his heart went out to their families.

No spectators were injured in the crash.

Rushing, a former California National Guard aircraft mechanic, told the Orange County Register in 2013, that he and other pilots with the Condor Squadron, regularly performed flyovers throughout Southern California on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Veterans Day, and at other times, in the AT-6 Texan, used as training planes during World War II.

“The most fun thing about it all? It’s a real honor to be honoring military veterans,” he said at the time.

The Condors were founded in 1965 at Van Nuys Airport as a Civil Air Patrol search-and-rescue unit as well as to promote the history of the AT-6 Texan, which has been featured in numerous movies.

Additionally, the squadron maintains museum sites at the airport and the Portal of The Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation at the Valhalla Cemetery in Burbank.

The Reno Air Racing Association is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration to determine the cause of the crash, Telling said.

Officials with the FAA could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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