A World War II-era fighter plane flown by a veteran Hollywood stunt pilot plunged Friday into the edge of the grandstands during a popular air race in Reno, Nevada, killing three people and injuring more than 50 spectators.
The plane, piloted by 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, spiralled out of control without warning and appeared to disintegrate upon impact.
Spectators shot amateur video of the scene and started posting in on YouTube.
Bloodied bodies were spread across the area as people tended to the victims and ambulances rushed to the scene.
Authorities were investigating the cause, but an official with the event said there were indications that mechanical problems were to blame.
Among the dead was Leeward, of Ocala, Florida, a veteran airman and movie stunt pilot who named his P-51 Mustang fighter plane the "Galloping Ghost," according to Mike Houghton, president and CEO of Reno Air Races.
The P-51 Mustang, a class of fighter plane that can fly at speeds in excess of 500 mph (800kph), crashed into a box-seat area in front of the grandstand at about 4:30pm (2230GMT), race spokesman Mike Draper said.
Houghton said Leeward appeared to have "lost control of the aircraft," though details on why that happened weren''t immediately known.
Houghton said at a news conference hours after the crash that there appeared to be a "problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control."
He said the rest of the races have been cancelled as the National Transport Safety Board investigates.