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Plane Crashes at Nevada Air Show in 'Mass Casualty' Situation

A North American P-51 Mustang is seen in the foreground as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 'Nine O Nine' World War II Heavy Bomber taxis behind it as part of the Wings of Freedom tour to honor World War II veterans, in Sunnyvale, California, December 2011.

A World War II vintage fighter plane crashed at an air show in the western U.S. state of Nevada Friday, killing the pilot and at least two other people, and injuring more than 50 - about 15 critically.

Authorities are calling the crash a "mass casualty" situation.

The plane crashed into an area of box seats near a grandstand during the National Championship Air Races in the Reno area. Video taken at the scene showed the plane heading nose-down into the ground.

Authorities say the crash impact area was "fairly full" at the time and that emergency response teams immediately went to work.

Reports say the pilot issued a "Mayday" [distress signal] before the plane went down. He has been identified as 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, an air racer, movie stunt pilot and real estate developer from Florida. Authorities say he was flying a P-51 Mustang called "Galloping Ghost."

There will be a memorial service for Leeward at the airport Saturday afternoon.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration were viewing the air show and have taken charge of the investigation. The rest of the three-day event has been cancelled.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.