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Reno Air Race Crash: Investigators Comb Through Debris

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Investigators in Nevada today are continuing to comb the accident site where a stunt plane crashed during an air race in Reno.

Nine people died including the pilot when a World War II era plane crashed into the VIP seats on the tarmac Friday. A total of 69 people were injured.

Eyewitnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.

Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to this plane or another one.

NTSB investigators say they may not have a flight data recorder. But the numerous photos and personal video accounts from spectators will assist officials in the investigation.

"That will be a huge help for us," said NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind.

In fact, the photos appear to support eyewitness accounts that pieces of the P51's tail started falling off.

"Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane was coming off," Rosekind said at a news conference. "A component has been recovered. We have not identified the component or if it even came from the airplane ... We are going to focus on that."

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.

Kelly was scheduled to fly a p51 similar to the one that crashed, though he was not racing.

He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Va., Saturday.

Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird, when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28. Mangan was killed. No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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