Newberg family recorded Reno crash (graphic)

Credit: KGW/Wilson family

Brent and Kyle Wilson witnessed the Reno air race crash.


by Mike Benner and Michael Rollins

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeBennerKGW

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 5:11 PM

NEWBERG -- Brent Wilson and his two sons were in the grandstands Friday as the pilot of a race-modified P-51 crashed into the crowd at the annual Reno air races.

Wilson, a George Fox University professor, said "for a brief moment, which seemed like an eternity, we're looking right up at the fuselage, I mean I'm looking up at the prop and right at the fuselage. It's coming directly for us, in our area. You're frozen, you're just frozen."

Wilson said even if they had wanted to, with the crowd, there was no choice but to stay put.

His son Kyle was videotaping the races when they heard an awful noise above they knew pointed to a major problem. Kyle instinctively looked up at the plane as the camera was rolling.

"I was just watching the actual plane," Kyle said, "I didn't care about the camera, because (the plane) was pretty close to us, and I just froze, I mean I guess this was subconscious, cause I was really worried and scared."

Some of the fuel from the plane actually struck Kyle.

"I'm really struggling with it," he said of witnessing the tragedy, "It's tough. But what I took from it is that anything can happen. You can only control what you can do."

Brent Wilson said his family wanted to share the video to show how the pilot was able to miss the main grandstand. The tape has been forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board. He also praised the work of emergency crews.

The Wilsons have not decided whether they'll return to Reno next year.

"When we left, we went to the car," Brent Wilson said, "the first thing we do, is we just stop, and I grabbed both boys, and we prayed for all the families of the injured or folks that had just lost loved ones, it was very, very emotionally overwhelming."