Giffords husband was to fly WWII plane in Reno air race

LOS ANGELES Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:33pm EDT

Mission Commander Mark Kelly speaks at a crew press conference following the landing of space shuttle Endeavour at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida June 1, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Mission Commander Mark Kelly speaks at a crew press conference following the landing of space shuttle Endeavour at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida June 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was scheduled to fly aerobatics in a P-51 Mustang in the Reno air show on Saturday, a Giffords' spokesman said.

The plane is the same model as the vintage World War II fighter plane dubbed the "Galloping Ghost" that crashed into the audience on Friday, killing nine people and injuring more than 50 others, Giffords' spokesman Mark Kimble told Reuters.

Kelly was in Reno the day of the deadly accident, but Kindle said he was making his way back to Houston after the plane crash resulted in the cancellation of the races, originally scheduled to run through the weekend.

National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived in Reno on Saturday morning to determine the cause of the crash.

The Reno investigation began on the same day that another vintage aircraft, a T-28, crashed in a fireball at a Martinsburg, West Virginia air show, killing the pilot.

The Reno and West Virginia crashes are the latest in a spate of fatal air show accidents in the last two months.

Last month, the pilot of an aerobatic airplane died in a fiery crash in front of onlookers at a weekend air show in Kansas City.

In Michigan last month a wingwalker at an air show near Detroit also plunged about 200 feet to his death as he tried to climb onto a helicopter in midair.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan)

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