September 17, 2011 / 9:35 PM / 8 years ago

Historic plane crashes at West Virginia air show

Bt Steven Allen Adams

MARTINSBURG, W., Virginia (Reuters) - A World War II-era plane crashed in a fireball on Saturday at a West Virginia air show, killing the pilot, officials said, a day after another vintage plane crashed at a Nevada show, killing nine people and injuring more than 50 others.

The T-28 aircraft crashed at about 2:40 p.m. during an acrobatic demonstration at the 2011 Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House & Air Show in Martinsburg, said the West Virginia Air National Guard.

The pilot, a civilian, was killed, and no one else was injured, said First Lieutenant Nathan Mueller of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

The name of the pilot was not released, pending notification of the family.

The plane, which crashed onto a runway, was registered to John Mangan of Concord, North Carolina.

The plane was flying in a formation of six T-28s, officials said.

Witnesses reported seeing a large fireball. West Virginia Senate Majority leader John Unger, whose district includes Martinsburg, was at the air show with his family.

“All of a sudden I heard my wife say, ‘Oh my goodness’ and then I heard a boom, like clap, and I looked over and there was a ball of fire,” Unger said. “When I saw it, it had already hit the ground and it was sliding in a big flame.”

Another witness said she was watching the T-28 perform a mid-air crisscrossing stunt with a similar plane.

“After crossing each other, the plane to my right lowered closer to the ground and from what I saw was at almost a sideways angle and rolled onto its side,” said Morgan McAckern, a college student.

“It looked very much like the tip of one of the wings clipped the ground and dragged before exploding,” she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, officials said.

The T-28 plane was used for training by the Navy and Air Force between 1950 and 1984.

Another historic plane, a P-51 Mustang, crashed on Friday near the grandstand in a Reno, Nevada air race, killing nine people and injuring more than 50 others.

Among those killed in Reno was the pilot, Jimmy Leeward. The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst

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