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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/16/11

Guests: Andrew del Greco, Greg Feith, Jimmy Carter, Mackenzie Warren, Mike Draper, Don Butterfield, Mackenzie Warren, Armando Avina, Mike Houghton

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks, Lawrence. And thanks to you at home for staying with us. We begin with breaking news out of Reno, Nevada, where a vintage World War II fighter aircraft has crashed into the stands at the National Championship Air Races. Officials say this is, a quote, "mass casualty situation up." One witness describing it as just like a massacre. It`s like a bomb went off. Again, that`s from an onsite witness. A video posted on YouTube of the crash actually shows the moment of impact. We will show you that. I want to warn you, the footage is disturbing. KOLO TV is reporting at least 12 people have been killed. A medical official telling "The Associated Press" that more than 75 people on scene are injured, 25 of those injuries are considered critical injuries. And this happened at about 4:30 p.m. local time in Nevada. It was a P-51 vintage Mustang aircraft which crashed into what they`re describing into the box seat area at the front of the grant stand. Jeff Martinez, who is KRNV-TV weatherman, told the "Associated Press" that he saw the plane veer to the right and then, quote, "It just augured straight into the ground." The spokesman for the air races telling "The Associated Press" that the pilot was 80-year-old Jimmy Leeward. This is his picture from his Facebook page. KRNV reports that he`s 80 years old and from Florida. According to his Facebook page, this is him flying the plane while qualifying for the air races. The page also says he`d been racing airplanes since the mid-1970s. Again, there`s no word yet on why exactly this plane went down or perhaps more importantly now, exactly how many people have been injured in this incident. But medical officials say that 40 people, 40 people have been taken to local hospitals by ambulance and at least one person has been flown to a hospital. Joining us now on the phone is reporter Andrew del Greco from our Reno affiliate KRNV-TV. Andrew, thank you very much for joining us. You heard what I just said about what we know there. Do you have any additional information right now about the extent of the injuries and what happened here? ANDREW DEL GRECO, KRNV REPORTER (via telephone): Well, Rachel, I can tell you right now I`m looking at I`d say three or four dozen people, these are people from the media, these are also some of the plane enthusiasts, some who have been here at the Reno national championship area, looking at people really from different law agencies. We are standing by for a news conference that`s going to happen any minute now. So, we should get some more concrete information I would say any minute now. But I think it goes without saying that it`s basically a scene of shock here. These air races have been going on for decades and there have been pilots who have crashed before, but nothing like what has taken place today. We, as you have told your audience, a P-51 has gone down into an area where we would think that maybe dozens of people were watching the air races. So in years past, the crashes have not involved bystanders. Where it looks like today that has been the case. So, I`ve also heard some people wondering, you know, could this be the end of the air races, with something like this happening? But it`s too soon, of course, to get into that. That is for another day. Right now, we want to know more about how many people were injured and if anyone died today, unfortunately, or maybe how many people died. And it looks like the news conference is about to get under way any minute now. And if you would like to come back to me later in your show, I bet you I can give you and your audience some more concrete information -- Rachel. MADDOW: Absolutely. Thank you, Andrew. One last question for you. We can see one -- from the footage here, we can see one area of seating from which the crash was viewed. Who would have been sitting in the area it seems like the plane went down into? DEL GRECO: Well, there are some witnesses who I talked to that said it was a VIP area, but I do not have that confirmed. Of course, in these kinds of emergency situations, the media, of course, we`re not the first priority, as all the responders deal with their work. So, we have not been officially addressed yet. I can just tell you that some of the witnesses said it was a VIP area. Possibly dozens of people who were there watching the race. MADDOW: Andrew, are there multiple ambulances or air ambulances on scene that you can tell? DEL GRECO: Oh, there were dozens of ambulances here. I think most of them have already taken people back to the area hospitals here in the Reno area. But there were I would say dozens of ambulances from what I saw. You had some flights -- some helicopters above. Right now, I do not see any helicopters and I would think that most the ambulances have now taken the patients back to the hospitals. MADDOW: Andrew del Greco from Reno affiliate, KRNV TV -- thank you very much. Again, the basics of the situation are that a vintage plane participating in an air race in Reno, Nevada, has crashed -- apparently crashed into a grandstand area. The footage that we have of the moment of impact is taken, as you can see here, from one area of seating at this air race. The reason that there may be so many casualties in this event, and again, we do not have confirmed deaths, but reports of dozens of casualties. The reason that there may be people hurt here is although you can`t see it in this footage, apparently what`s happened is that this plane went down into another area of seating, which is being described as a grandstand. It`s possible that that was a VIP area, although we do not have that sort of confirmation. It`s also possible that may have been a grandstand where members of the media who were covering this event would have been seated for doing that. Again, that is unconfirmed. We just know that it`s a separate grandstand from the seating area that you can see here. We are expecting further information both from the authorities as they start to release information. Again, this is still an unfolding crisis in Reno. Also reporters on scene as we are able to get more concrete information about the toll here, about what caused the crash and about what to expect as the night rolls in Reno. We will keep you posted. This is breaking news here on MSNBC. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Again, breaking news at this hour in Reno, Nevada, where at an air race event the pilot of a vintage aircraft, a World War II aircraft, has appeared to crashed into an area where spectators were watching the race event. We do not at this point have confirmed deaths but we have multiple reports of a great deal -- a great number of casualties. We`re hearing dozens of people injured at least in this event in Reno, Nevada. This happened -- you can see, this is daylight here. This is three hours earlier than the East Coast. This was 4:30 p.m. Nevada time. And that shows the moment of impact. What you can`t see clearly from these images is that the place that the plane hit the ground is thought to have been a grandstand area that was relatively well-populated. You can see that this video was shot by somebody who was there watching the air race from one area of seating, but again, the plane seems to have gone down into another area of seating. That`s why we are talking about dozens of casualties on the ground. We`ve heard reports of dozens of ambulances taking people to hospitals and some air ambulances on site. Moments ago, just moments ago, officials on site held this very informal press conference. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIKE HOUGHTON, PRES. & CEO RENO AIR RACING ASSOCIATION: I`ve spent quite a bit of time with the family. They`re obviously devastated. She was a close friend of all of ours. We`re going to have a memorial service in their pit at 1:00 tomorrow. Best wishes to the family. I`ll take questions at this point. REPORTER: What else can you tell us about the pilot, sir? HOUGHTON: The pilot was a good friend. He`s been here a long, long time. He`s worked very hard to compete this year. All I`ve heard are rumors like all the rest of you have as to what caused the problem. Jimmy is a real estate developer out of Ocala, Florida. He`s -- most of his family was here. REPORTER: And a number of other pilots came from his group, is that correct, who are competing this weekend? HOUGHTON: There`s a lot of them. It`s a close-knit family. There`s a lot of them here. REPORTER: Are any spectators dead? HOUGHTON: I believe probably so. I`m not going to -- REPORTER: Any idea on any -- HOUGHTON: I don`t have a number. I`m not going to (INAUDIBLE) -- just to the east of the center of the grandstands is the measure mark. And from the east there, the aircraft and the parts dispersed east, rows A and B in the box. I don`t know how far down it went. It pretty well wiped out the front of the box area, the aircraft, parts as well went to the north. REPORTER: Can you tell us what people heard and saw in the moments before the crash? Did the engine rev? HOUGHTON: It appeared as though he lost control of the aircraft. REPORTER: Did the engines rev or go silent? HOUGHTON: Don`t know. (INAUDIBLE) HOUGHTON: That`s the way they react. Probably that`s what he tried to. It had to be a control service problem. Most probably. Questions, anymore? Guys? REPORTER: Anymore press conferences tonight? HOUGHTON: Where`s my -- what do you think? Why don`t we do this? Let`s schedule another one at 7:00 and then I`ll give the information I`ve been able to pick up between now and then. The governor`s on his way out. Mayor Cashell is on his way out. City manager is on his way out. We`ll be providing them with a briefing as well. And at 7:00 I think is a fair time to be able to give you some more accurate information. REPORTER: Will you send out press releases after that? HOUGHTON: We`ll send out press releases. (INAUDIBLE) HOUGHTON: Fairly full, especially in that area. A lot of repeat fans and they do pack up bigger than the general -- the reserve grandstands do on Friday. Anything else? REPORTER: He was a real estate developer? HOUGHTON: He was a real estate developer in Ocala, Florida. REPORTER: How long had he been flying? HOUGHTON: Jimmy`s been here for a long time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1975. HOUGHTON: `75. There we go. Thank you. Any other questions, guys? I`m happy to answer whatever I know. REPORTER: You didn`t know how many fatalities? Do you have any idea, rough number of injuries? Dozens are we talking? HOUGHTON: We`re talking in 40, 50 total involved is my guess. I was out there. That was the estimate I made when I was on the site. REPORTER: We saw a lot of ambulances. (INAUDIBLE) Did you see a number -- is this a mass casualty incident? HOUGHTON: It is a mass casualty situation. (INAUDIBLE) HOUGHTON: It clicks into position automatically. We went through a drill two months ago on a mass casualty situation. We go through one every two years. And we have a certain protocol that we go into on site. We take control immediately and then it`s handed off into the true mass casualty situation as soon as it`s deemed to be that. Question? (INAUDIBLE) HOUGHTON: That`s up to Valerie. We`ll call general press briefings when we have information. So all I can tell you at this point, 7:00. If it looks like we have more information that`s going to come by, we will tell you at that point in time when the next one will be. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: This is the latest from Reno, Nevada. Mike Houghton speaking here, president and CEO of Reno Air Racing Association -- the air races in Reno, the site of what you see Mr. Houghton describing as a mass casualty event. The breaking news at this hour is a vintage World War II era plane piloted apparently by 80-year-old Jimmy Leeward, a real estate developer from Florida, has crashed into the grandstands at this air race in Reno. According to "Reno Gazette Journal," the number they`re putting on it in terms of injuries, so far 40 people have been taken to local hospitals by ambulances and one person has been flown to the hospital. We hear the round number of dozens have people having been injured here. Mr. Houghton, the head of the racing association, on site there speaking to the press, when asked if there were deaths on the ground, he said imagine that is true given what happened with this crash. But, again, deaths are not being confirmed officially at this point. We`re being told that the governor, Brian Sandoval, of Nevada and the mayor of Reno, Bob Cashell, are on their way out to the site of this crash in Reno. Joining us on the phone now is Greg Feith, former investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, the NTSB. Mr. Feith, thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate your time tonight. GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR (via telephone): You`re welcome. MADDOW: How dangerous are air race events like this? And has there - - have there been recent events at air races that should make us worry about them in terms of their safety? FEITH: Well, this is really the only type of air race of its kind in the world. There are other types of high-speed events, the Red Bull pylon racing. But this type of race is really one of a kind. There have been a lot of safe guards built into this racing over the years from lessons learned from past accidents. But, again, you can never mitigate the risk to zero because, you know, when you have an aircraft moving at 400, 500 miles an hour, things happen very quickly, the altitude of the aircraft is very low. So, any kind of reaction time that the pilot may have or if you have a mechanical problem may not allow the safety margins that are typically built into the normal part of the racing course. MADDOW: We`re told that this was a vintage aircraft that crashed, a P-51 Mustang. Do you know anything about that specific type of aircraft or even that general type of vintage aircraft? FEITH: Well, the P-51 was the mainstay in World War II. It was a well-renowned fighter airplane that escorted the B-17s and, of course, the Tuskegee airmen became famous flying the P-51. But these aircraft are highly modified. So, even though the base aircraft may be a P-51, this airplane is highly modified with very large engines. The aerodynamic characteristics and controllability of the airplane is substantially changed for the purpose of racing, because they are racing at high speeds, they need to have more responsive flight controls. So, the base aircraft is a P-51. But when you look at it, it`s been highly modified. So, you know, there are other World War II vintage aircrafts flying, the P-51, the Bearcats, there`s the Sea Fury. So, there are a number of World War II vintage airplanes modified for this particular race. MADDOW: Air crashes of all kinds are regulated differently than other forms of transportation and other more common disasters. Obviously the priority on site right now in Reno is to keep as many people alive as possible and to get the injured to hospitals and frankly to collected dead if there are any. We heard from the head of the air racing association that he expects there will be people killed among those hit by this crash on the ground. What will authorities be doing in terms of dealing with this as an air crash? Will it be mostly a matter of reconstructing the crash site and as much of the plane as they can to figure out why this crash happened? FEITH: Absolutely, Rachel. The big thing here is that the airplane hit at a very high rate of speed. So you can see from the latter portions of the video that I think you`ve been showing that there was total destruction of the airplane. It may never be known the exact mechanical malfunction or failure of the aircraft if there was a mechanical malfunction. You have an 80-year-old pilot, you know, racing at these speeds, pulling high G forces. He could have had a medical condition and was pulling up. Typically, the procedure is if you have some sort of problem, you`ll typically call mayday, which some folks have said that this pilot may have called a mayday, mayday, mayday, then pulled up which would be a standard protocol to get out of the racer`s way and maneuver the airplane to a safe haven, either, you know, put the airplane down somewhere else or land. But it -- from all accounts, and some of that video that I`ve seen, it looks like there was a total loss of control. But you don`t know if it`s mechanical or human. That is the pilot suffering some sort of medical problem that resulted in the loss of control of the airplane. MADDOW: Greg Feith, former investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, the NTSB -- Greg, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it, sir. FEITH: You`re welcome. MADDOW: We will monitor the situation and bring you new information as we receive it throughout the hour. But again, the breaking news this hour is that in Reno, Nevada, at an air race, a vintage World War II era plane has crashed into a grandstand laden with spectators. At this point, we are hearing it`s described as a mass casualty incident. Local fire officials are reporting multiple spectator fatalities and critical injuries. We have heard from reporters on the scene there are not only dozens of ambulances on scene, including some air ambulances, but that dozens of people have been already been taken to the hospital. We do not have confirmed numbers on the total number of injuries, critical injuries or indeed fatalities. But news is starting to trickle out from what happened here in this horrific, horrific crash in Reno, Nevada. We will keep you posted. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Jon Huntsman`s first campaign ad, telegraph the message, I`m going to be the weird guy in the race. That, in fact, is not me on the motorcycle. After that softest of all soft launches online, Jon Huntsman in-person campaign launch was a formal speech from Jersey City, New Jersey -- a formal speech with a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty in the background. Just like Ronald Reagan did. That will be awesome -- except when Jon Huntsman did it, his campaign neglected to frame the shot so you could see the Statue of Liberty. Instead it was Jon Huntsman as you see here, his head bisected by a parked tour boat. And for the members of the media who covered the Jon Huntsman launch with the tour boat, they got these press credentials which said they were in New York. They were not. They were in New Jersey, and which featured Jon Huntsman name spelled wrong. The candidate`s campaign handed out press badges that had their own candidate`s name misspelled. And when the press tried to follow the candidate from his announcement to his first campaign event in New Hampshire that day, the press were led accidentally to a plane that was actually bound not for New Hampshire but for Saudi Arabia. So, it`s a logistically troubled campaign launch day for Jon Huntsman. But you know what? Whatever. Everybody has their moments. You know, last night, we did half of this show without a teleprompter. When these things happen you just move on. Or in the case of the Jon Huntsman campaign, you try to move on but instead what happens is you just continue with the mishaps and the flubs and you hope that nobody extrapolates greater political meaning from the fact that these flubs keep happening. Like remember how the campaign spelled Jon Huntsman`s name wrong on the credentials the first day and that was super embarrassing? That did not stop the Jon Huntsman campaign from doing it again -- on a mailer on the all-important first primary state of New Hampshire. Once again, his own campaign making him "John" with an "H" which is not the way you spell his name. Then a former Jon Huntsman aide did a tell-all with which resulted in this big seven-page click-through piece on "Politico" titled "Inside the Drama," describing Huntsman`s campaign as disorganized and full of staff tension. According to "Politico," this former aide had reached out to him to discuss his concerns with the campaign. He initially insisted that he`d be identified in any story only as a campaign insider. But after reading a "Real Clear Politics" story that featured unnamed Huntsman officials calling him a disruptive force, this particular aide was infuriated and agreed to go on the record. That sort of tell-all, backstabby, catty dirt-dishing usually happens once the campaign is over. That`s usually the way campaign people treat each other of the campaign lost and it`s done. So, this is a bad sign for the campaign for Jon Huntsman for president that Huntsman staffers and former staffers are already yelling at each other on the Internet while the campaign is still going on. Then there was that time the Huntsman campaign promised a major announcement. It turned out to be the endorsement of Jeb bush. But not -- it wasn`t that Jeb Bush you`re thinking of. It was this Jeb Bush -- Jeb Bush, Jr., who was a person you never heard of. And then there`s Jon Huntsman debating. It`s not that it`s that bad necessarily. I think Mr. Huntsman did OK at the NBC debate earlier this month. Certainly, no gaffes -- except for the fact that he said nothing that got noticed at all. A few days later in the debate on CNN in Tampa, Florida, Mr. Huntsman went back to the "I`m the weird motorcycle guy, notice me" strategy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR: I want to go down and get your thoughts on something you would bring to the White House if you were the next president of the United States. JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My wife`s going to kill me for saying this. As a 40 year motorcycle rider, I would bring my Harley Davidson and motocross bike. BLITZER: Ladies and gentlemen, the eight Republican presidential candidates. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Remember -- remember when I was the cool weird motorcycle guy though that wasn`t me on the motorcycle in my ad? Remember when I was that guy, not the guy whose campaign was spelling his name wrong and having their infighting on "Politico" and I had the boat on my head? Please remember me as the motorcycle guy. Please. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, when it comes to reforming Social Security, is anything from your perspective off the table? HUNTSMAN: I don`t think anything should be off the table. Except maybe some of the drama that`s playing out here on this floor today. I mean -- to hear these two go at it over here, it`s almost incredible. You`ve got Governor Romney who called it a fraud in his book "No Apology." I don`t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Is that the right audience for that? Jon Huntsman trying very hard but emphatically failing to lock up the influential Kurt Cobain fan base vote in the Republican presidential primary in Tampa. Maybe. I don`t know. What Jon Huntsman needs to be doing right now is becoming a credible third way -- someone who is not in the super-conservative Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann camp but who was also not in the Romney-esque Mitt Romney camp. But what he`s doing instead can fairly be diagnosed, even if you like Jon Huntsman. What`s happening to his campaign right now could fairly be diagnosed as a failure to thrive. Plus, not to mention, he did have the opportunity to use the Huntsman theme song from that cartoon, which we offered him. He has never used it. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: If you had the option to use that and you were polling like he`s polling, wouldn`t you use that? Given his polling, a theme song or something is in fact what Jon Huntsman needs. This week, in the land of Jon Huntsman polling, what looked like a mistake actually wasn`t. The folks at Gallup released what they call -- they headline this -- as their positive intensity scores for the Republican presidential contenders. Positive intensity scores: Rick Perry, 24, Mitt Romney at 16, Michele Bachmann at 10, Ron Paul at 7, Jon Huntsman at minus 1 -- a negative number in positive intensity surveying. How do you have a negative number on something that is called your positive intensity? Earlier last month things were looking much better for Governor Huntsman when he polled all the way up at plus 1. But, hey, it is above zero. Jon Huntsman`s national polling since he started his campaign has really been solid in the sense that it has been stable. In "The Washington Post"/ABC poll taken in June, the month Mr. Huntsman announced his candidacy, he was polling in a solid 1 percent. And the same poll this month, he`s still at 1 percent. Last Friday, seven days ago, the Huntsman campaign decided it was time to do things differently, reallocate resources, shifts staff members from the Huntsman campaign hours in Florida to instead Huntsman campaign headquarters in New Hampshire. The campaign calling the shift in strategy "critical in our efforts in New Hampshire and across the country." For Jon Huntsman, winning the nomination now means winning in New Hampshire. That is necessary but not sufficient. It really is necessary. And presumably, the campaign has some reason to believe he has the potential to do well in New Hampshire or they wouldn`t be talking about its importance. But when you look at how Huntsman is doing in got to win New Hampshire to win everywhere, you can see Governor Huntsman`s big 4 percent in the WMUR poll in May, there`s one important thing about that 4 percent. That was before Jon Huntsman launched his campaign. By July, once he was in the race, he was down to 2 percent. So here is an open question. Why is Jon Huntsman still in this race? Maybe there are some internal polls that indicate Governor Huntsman will have a huge bump in the next wave of data? Tim Pawlenty didn`t wait for the Iowa caucuses before he dropped out with a thud. But Jon Huntsman, Mr. 1 percent, he`s still plugging away. Why is that? Why is he not quitting? Why is he still being taken seriously? Why is he still getting into the debates? It`s a mystery. But, today especially, there is a new even bigger mystery about this. Why are Republican establishment figures, surprising Republican establishment figures, still signing up with Jon Huntsman now? Last week, we learned that a top Rick Perry donor is becoming Jon Huntsman`s campaign chair. And today, today, from the Jon Huntsman campaign in New Hampshire, this happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUNTSMAN: I`m delighted today to be here with Governor Tom Ridge. He`s a war hero, he`s a prosecutor, he`s a businessman, he`s a former congressman. Twice elected governor of Pennsylvania. Our nation`s first ever secretary of homeland security. And today, I`m honored and privileged to be able to call Tom not only a friend but a supporter. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Tom Ridge -- Tom Ridge is, in fact, all of those things. War hero, prosecutor, former Pennsylvania governor, George W. Bush`s first homeland security secretary -- real serious heavy hitting no joke big deal Republican Party establishment-type Republican with national name recognition and considered for the vice presidency and all of that and he is endorsing Jon Huntsman -- today endorsing Mr. 1 percent. We asked Mr. Ridge to come on the show tonight. He was very nice but he said he was not able to be here. I got to tell you, I am desperate to know, why is this happening? What is going on here? What is the secret secret that explains why Mr. 1 percent is still in the debates, still being taken seriously, still in the race at all and still now picking up new endorsements and new Rick Perry donors to come work on his campaign? Joining us now is Alex Wagner, MSNBC political analyst. Alex, it`s good to have you here. Thanks for being here. ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s great to be here. Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Is there a secret long game to explain why Jon Huntsman is still in the race? WAGNER: I think there is a real desire on the part of the GOP establishment to have someone who is not Mitt Romney and not Rick Perry in the race, and also not Michele Bachmann and not Herman Cain and not Ron Paul. So, the de facto candidate is -- MADDOW: Santorum. WAGNER: I forgot him. It`s like -- it`s sort of like high school. You have the football. You have the captain of the football team. You have the president of the student council, that would be Mitt Romney. And then you have the weird guy in shop class who gets, like, nose bleeds at weird times. That would be Jon Huntsman. He keeps staying in there because I think he believes he can get to February. He can get to New Hampshire and he`s going to show everybody what he has -- as you said. That is driven in large part by John Weaver, his chief strategist, who ran McCain`s campaign. McCain was in sort of similar predicament at some point in 2008 and, of course, ended up being the GOP candidate. MADDOW: Is there a problem in the Mitt Romney candidacy, though, that is solved by Jon Huntsman? WAGNER: Well, no -- in that way -- I actually go back to my high school illusion. He`s almost -- if Mitt Romney is the president of the student council, Jon Huntsman is sort of like the annoying sergeant at arms. I mean, there is -- look, Jon Huntsman has some serious bona fides in terms of executive experience, job creation, his foreign policy, et cetera, et cetera, if you are looking at this field. Mitt Romney has some version of those. It`s not like the Romney/Perry dynamic I liken to a jigsaw puzzle, you know, one is concave, one is convex. There`s not the same sort of call and response with Romney and Huntsman. So, in that way, I think it`s very difficult for Huntsman to draw a line saying, look, I`m this much more compelling than Mitt Romney. And then you couple that with an abysmal performance on Monday at the debates that literally gave rise, I think, across the Twitter-verse to #groan. It was like, stop talking. You`ll get beyond 1 percent if you stop making the bad jokes. Please do yourself a favor. MADDOW: But in -- I mean, I think your point about Weaver being his campaign strategist and the comparison to what seems like a lost cause John McCain campaign is apt. But in that case, isn`t it likely that the strategy for his campaign depended on him just being better at this by now. I mean, making some sort of showings in the debates so far. WAGNER: Everybody is waiting for that better than this to arrive. And that 1 percent might be Jon Huntsman`s family getting called in these polls. Yes. And I think, look, there`s a real desire I think on the part of the GOP establishment and even the Tea Party base to have a candidate. They want to lock it down. They want to put a ring on it. And February is a long -- it`s -- that`s several months from now. And I think this goose may be cooked before then. MADDOW: Jon Huntsman, if you would like to come on the show and tell me that I am full of it and I need to give you a break because you`re staying in this, because you have a clear path to win it, I will give all the time that they will allow me to control here on MSNBC to make your case. You will have a good time. It will be fun. It will not be hostile. It will be fair. Come on. My best pitch. Alex Wagner, MSNBC political analyst -- Alex, thanks for being here. WAGNER: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Do you think the pitch is going to work? WAGNER: Yes, keep mentioning Beefheart. Everyone loves Captain Beefheart. MADDOW: All right. Excellent, we will be right back. Beefheart -- (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: While he was still saying that he was not running for president, the most definitive sign from Texas Governor Rick Perry that he was running, is that he, all of a sudden, started doing stuff that he did not do before as Texas governor, things like meeting with the prime minister of Latvia, and meeting with the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. That is not exactly day in the life stuff for a Texas governor -- at least for this Texas governor. But it is the kind of thing that you do if you`re a presidential contender and you want to up your worldliness quotient. Now that Governor Perry is running and trying to keep up the perception that he is grounded in international affairs, Governor Perry today wrote an op-ed for "The Wall Street Journal" on a subject of Israel, the man who has been whipping up crowds by talking about his American state seceding from the Union, who has floated the idea of quite literally of breaking up the United States of America now -- is now as a presidential candidate lending his sage international advice to the world`s most delicate tinderbox of a region. With protesters in Egypt which borders Israel, ransacking the Israeli embassy, with the Palestinians saying they will ask the U.N. next week for statehood, with Israel promising grave consequences if the Palestinians do ask for that -- one campaign for president wants you to look at the delicacy of that situation and think, boy, I wish Rick Perry were handling this. While he was president, Jimmy Carter brokered the first agreement by any Arab country to recognize Israel, that peace treaty between Egypt and Israel -- the Israeli prime minister and Egyptian vice president won the Nobel Peace Prize for the agreement. The peace treaty is still in effect but it is under strain now more than 30 years later. Yesterday, at the Carter Center in Atlanta, I spoke with President Carter and asked him what he thinks happens next here. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: On the issue of Mideast peace -- JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes. MADDOW: -- after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in the Arab Spring uprising there, have you been distressed to see Egyptians attacking the Israeli embassy there and the sort of outpouring of upset and hostility to Israel in post-revolutionary Egypt? CARTER: Upset but not surprised. When I was in office, we had two major agreements between Israel and Egypt. One was a Camp David Accords in September of 1978. It basically dealt with the rights of the Palestinians. But Israelis agreed for the full application of the United Nations resolution 242, the prohibition against achieving land as a result of war. And Israelis agreed to withdraw their military and political entities from occupied territories and to grant the Palestinians full autonomy. That was basically the Camp David Accords. And then we followed up that six months later in the spring of 1979 with a treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt. A lot of people now meld the two, but they`re completely different. And in the last 30 years, the Israelis have not complied with any of their promises considering Palestinian rights, always drawing from occupied territories. And, basically, Mubarak has ignored that failure. But he has insisted on the full observance of a treaty between Egypt and Israel. So, Mubarak accepted that effect, or that result, of that situation. The people of Egypt have never done that. They have always insisted that the Palestinian rights should be on equal basis with the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel. And so, it was not a surprise to me that the demonstrators wanted to see the Israelis removed. It was a surprise and great disappointment to me that the military junta that now rules Egypt temporarily, at least, did not defend the embassy. They should have because there had been a 12-foot wall built around the Israeli embassy to protect it. And it was torn down, you might say, brick by brick, with plenty of time for the military to send in Egyptian troops to protect the embassy. That`s a major setback and a very tragic thing to happen. But my prediction to you is that the basic terms of a treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt will not be adversely affected because the Egyptians know that one of the best things to ever happen to them is to have peace with Israel. And Israelis also know that the Egyptian armed forces were the only major threat to them militarily and that was in four different wars that existed in the 25 years before I became president. Syrian, Jordan, the rest of them had no real threat militarily. So, I was able to help remove that threat to Israel. So I think it`s so valuable to both Israel and Egypt that the peace treaty will be preserved and honored by both sides. But the rights of the Palestinians have not been honored and the Palestinians have been very deeply disillusioned in the last few years, I would say, by the two major speeches that President Obama has made: one in Cairo in 2009 where he said no more settlements -- zero settlements. That sent a wave of jubilation to the Palestinian community. And the second one was earlier this year, I believe, when he said that any future peace has got to be predicated on the 1967 borders with by negotiation. And there, again, the Palestinians said, well, this is what the United States has always said, it`s what the United Nations said, so forth. But Israel has rejected both of those premises put forward by Obama, himself, and the Palestinians now I think in desperation since this American influence in the Middle East is practically zero now, and have said we`ll go to the United Nations. And that`s going to be a price that will evolve the next few days as the Palestinians ask for recognition for statehood maybe in a Security Council, almost certainly in the General Assembly. And, of course, the United States will veto the Security Council and the General Assembly would probably vote 140-150 nations in favor of Palestinian statehood, which means that Palestine, if people want to look it up, will have basically the same rights as the Vatican now. Not a full member, but the right to participate in an international forum and international organizations and so forth. MADDOW: Do you think the United States should support that? CARTER: I do. I think it would be good for Israel and the United States to support, to support that -- as we supported Israel in 1948 when they took the same move. And then have a good faith negotiation based on what the United States policy has always been, that is a 1967 borders, with the premise that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories. But that`s a premise I don`t believe Prime Minister Netanyahu is willing to make, although some of his predecessors, his immediate predecessor, Olmert, said this is what we need to do. MADDOW: President Carter, thank you so much for this time. I really appreciate it. CARTER: Great to be with you. Thank you for having me. MADDOW: Thank you, sir. CARTER: Thank you for coming. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: We had a ton of feedback here at the show after showing the first half of my interview with President Carter. Thank you all for that. The sections of it that we showed last night and the second half we just showed now are all posted in sequence online at for your future reference. We`ll be right back with the latest from the plane crash news tonight -- a plane crash at an air race in Reno, Nevada. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unlimited races were going on. On the third lap, second or third lap, it came up over this hangar that we`re standing next to. Pulled out of the race and did kind of a mayday as he was going up. And it finally turned and did a nosedive and then it turned over to the -- in front of the grandstand and did a nosedive all the way down and went straight down. We saw everything -- the plane just splattered. Into the box seats from what we`ve heard. REPORTER: And, I mean, when you were seeing this, what was going there are your mind? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, identify seen this before. Planes pull out because they have problems and do this little mayday and the fire trucks come in and they land safely. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not tonight. An eyewitness statement from the plane crash tonight in Reno, Nevada. Again, what we know the basics of World War II era fighter plane, a P-51 Mustang, crashed into the box seat area in front of the grandstands, at about 4:30 local time in Reno, 7:30 East Coast Time. A spokesman from the event calling this a mass casualty situation. We do not yet have hard numbers in terms of the number of people injured or indeed dead. The pilot is identified as Jimmy Leeward of Ocala, Florida. He`s an 80-year-old man. He`s the owner of Leeward air ranch racing team, a well known racing pilot. His Website says he`s flown more than 120 races and served as a stunt pilot for numerous movies, including "Amelia" and "Cloud Dancer." In an interview with the "Ocala Star Banner" last year, he described how he has flown 250 types of planes and has a particular fondness for the P-51. Quote, "They`re more fun, more speed, more challenge. Speed, speed and more speed." In terms of the event that this happened at, "The Associated Press" describes it as like a car race in the sky, with planes flying wing tip to wing tip as low as 50 feet off the sage brush at speeds sometimes surpassing 500 miles per hour. Pilots follow an oval path around pylons with distances and speeds depending on the class of aircraft. NTSB -- a former NTSB who we spoke with earlier this hour told us that there is no other air race exactly like this in the country. In terms of what we know about injuries and deaths, the person who is the head of the air racing association that puts on this event said that the pilot was killed in this crash. That is not hard to believe given the footage that we have of the actual impact. In terms of other people killed on the ground, northern Nevada medical center in Sparks, Nevada -- Sparks, Nevada, being a community near Reno, they said that they have received eight patients injured from the crash, five of the eight people they have received are in serious condition. Three of them are in good condition. But there are two other area hospitals, Renown Health and St. Mary`s Regional Medical Center, that are also receiving patients from the airfield. I do not, in front of me, have word from St. Mary`s Regional Medical if St. Mary has, in fact, put out a patient statement at this point. But we do know from Renown within the last hour is that two people who they were treating for injuries as a result of this crash have died of the 22 patients that Renown is treating. They say that nine of those 22 are in critical condition. That is what we know right now. But on the scene is Mackenzie Warren. She is with our KRNV, which is our NBC affiliate in Reno. Mackenzie, thanks very much for being with us. Can you give us anything of an update in terms of what we understand about why this crash happened and how many people may be affected? MACKENZIE WARREN, KRNV REPORTER (via telephone): You know, Rachel, I just got back from speaking with one of the pilots flying in this unlimited race. You talk about 500 miles per hour, this was the race, the 500 miles per hour. Something went wrong and Mr. Leeward`s plane, the way the pilot described it to me is that when your prop is going 500 miles an hour in one direction and something pops, which judging from the pictures, it could have been the trim tab, that sends your plane in complete tailspin and downward -- it was fast, it was violent -- into a crowd of spectators. They rushed us off the scene very quickly. There were body parts, flesh, a lot of volunteers. This is a military event. So a lot of people train in this type of situation. They jumped into action. The triage here was beyond intense. You know, the "A.P." was reporting 75 people were wounded. For me on the ground, an eyewitness account, I can tell you that`s a conservative number. There are a lot of people hurt. They`re calling it a mass casualty. The death toll is really sketchy at this point. We have another press conference coming up here in seven minutes. We`re going to get more information that. But, you know, hundreds of thousands of people pour into the Reno Stead Airport for this event. The event is canceled. It`s devastated this community. From being here all week and reporting, it was lively, exciting and the mood just switched to somber, tragic, and horrifying day out here in northern Nevada. MADDOW: Mackenzie, what can you tell us about the area, the box seats that they`re describing as the stands, the spectator area where this plane appears to have made impact? Who would have been sitting there and how large a seating area was that? WARREN: It`s really large seating, Rachel. You know, you know, it`s right adjacent to the grandstand which seats thousands. These pit boxes are kind of the primo seats, hundreds of people in there. We`re starting to get pictures flooding into the newsroom of our scene, just debris is everywhere. People are scrambling to find out. You know, we have kids that come here for field trips. We`ve got military members. We`ve got veterans, families. This is a family event. A lot of pilots that call it a family out here. And no doubt a lot of lives lost. But people are really hesitant to go on camera us with, a lot of open wounds and the details are sketchy at this point. MADDOW: Mackenzie Warren, thank you for your reporting. I have a feeling we`ll be coming back to you tonight and we`ll, of course, be bringing that you press conference live at the top of the hour. Thank you, Mackenzie. WARREN: Thank you. MADDOW: Joining us now is Mike Draper. He`s a spokesman for the National Championship Air Races, which is running this event. Mr. Draper, my condolences tonight. Thank you for joining us. MIKE DRAPER, NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AIR RACES (via telephone): Thank you. MADDOW: What can you tell us in terms of the expected toll of this incident in terms of how the -- how the injured are being cared for and how many people may have been injured in this incident? DRAPER: Rachael, we -- it is a mass casualty incident. There is protocol in place at the air races puts together with local emergency personnel and the Nevada National Guard. And that emergency protocol is being followed. I can tell that you all local emergency personnel and National Guard since the base actually -- or the airfield actually is next (ph) a National Guard base. They all jumped into action immediately. And the casualties are being taken to hospitals located throughout the area. As far as the number, we still haven`t been able to confirm a number. We have heard number reports. But those aren`t coming from us. We don`t have a number yet. We`re waiting until local emergency personnel, the ambulance and hospitals can confirm that number. Quite frankly, it happened so quickly and emergency personnel acted so quickly, we got no estimate. Other than, we`re pretty confident the numbers that we`re hearing are pretty exaggerated. We hope to be releasing numbers very shortly. MADDOW: Can you tell White House would have been sitting in the grandstand area that was hit? We`re hearing it described as sort of box seats. Would have that been the media, VIPs, any particular group of people that would have been there? DRAPER: Sure. There`s a grandstand which is compromise of bleachers and those sorts of things. In front of it, there is a box seat area. It`s about three rows. And, quite honestly, I don`t know how many box -- numbers of box seats there are. But those box seats go to our larger sponsors, people who want to bring their companies or do corporate partnerships. Each box seat sits about 15 people. MADDOW: OK. In terms of -- in terms of the management of this event, Mr. Draper, obviously there have been safety concerns in the past. Four pilots killed in 2007 and 2008. Are you confident that your association had done everything possible to make this event safe for spectators and pilots? Is there anything you could have done that you didn`t do? DRAPER: Without knowing the cause of the accident, I can tell you that we work year round on safety. And fans and pilots are foremost priorities, as can you imagine. This time, I`ll tell you that we thought through every sort of emergency protocol and safety plan that we possibly could. Again, without knowing the cause of the accident, I can`t tell if you there`s anything else that we could have done. But we`re confident right now that we had every safety protocol and measure. Each -- we got six classes of airplanes at this airfield. Each class, in addition to this event being governed and -- by the Reno Air Racing Association, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are both on site. And we also, each class is dictated by -- or is sort of governed by an elected group of pilots that monitor their safety as well. So, we have probably five different layers of safety that look at each situation, each pilot and each plane, and make sure they`re as safe as possible for the event. MADDOW: Mike Draper, spokesman for the National Championship Air Races again, my condolences, sir. I know you have a lot of work to do tonight in getting -- keeping people inform on this. Good luck. Thank you. DRAPER: I appreciate it. Thank you. MADDOW: Joining us now is Don Butterfield. He`s the public information officer of the Northern Nevada Medical Center. There are nine patients from the crash being treated that hospital. Mr. Butterfield, thank you very much for your time tonight. What can you tell us about the number of patients that you have seen, that you expect to see as the night goes on? DON BUTTERFIELD, NORTHERN NEVADA MEDICAL CENTER (via telephone): Well, so far we`ve received nine patients. Five of those are in serious condition and four of them are in good condition. And that`s all we know at this time. MADDOW: In terms of the types of injuries that you`re seeing, are these shrapnel injuries? Are they burns? What types of injuries are you seeing? BUTTERFIELD: It`s a very dynamic situation. And patients are being evaluated as we speak. So I would not be able to convey that. MADDOW: OK. In terms of the emergency response here, we`ve heard reports that there were dozens of ambulances on site, including some air ambulances. As far as you know, have all of the injured that are due to arrive, have they arrived? Or are there sort of walking wounded who you expect to be bringing themselves in for medical care? BUTTERFIELD: That`s always a possibility. It`s really undetermined at this time. It`s a very fluid situation. MADDOW: Don Butterfield, Northern Nevada Medical Center public information officer -- thank you for your time tonight, sir. Good luck. BUTTERFIELD: Thank you very much. MADDOW: Joining us on phone now is Greg Feith, a former investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, the NTSB. Greg, if you`ve been able to look at any of our footage so far, you`ve seen that we got a few different angles on the crash. Are you able to tell anything about what might have happened here by these different angles, particularly this one we`re showing here about what happened with this plane? FEITH: Well, it`s evident that the pilot apparently had some sort of issue, whether it was with the airplane or himself. He was bailing out of the race itself. And as the video shows, the airport looks like it gets into a wind rock and then goes uncontrolled. Again, if it was a mechanical malfunction, it may be very difficult for investigators, given the fact that the airplane probably impacted at a speed of 400-plus miles an hour. Now, it was total devastation to the aircraft. If there was any mechanical problem, it may be very difficult to pinpoint. And depending on the condition of the pilot, you know -- again, it was a very devastating accident. The coroner may not be able to determine if there was a medical issue. But that`s going to be key in this investigation. MADDOW: Greg, in terms of trying to help people visualize and understand what happened here, you described this plane as traveling 400 or 500 miles an hour. It looks like it was going that fast when it crashed. If people have flown like on a Cessna or like a small passenger commercial plane, how fast do those planes typically fly so we can imagine that in relation to the 400 or 500 miles an hour that this plane was going? FEITH: When you look at commercial air travel, if you`re flying on an A-320 Airbus or 737, when you`re at cruise altitude, that airplane moving across the ground at around 500 to 600 miles an hour. So, that`s the speed that these airplanes are flying at about 100 to 300 feet above the ground going around the pylons in a closed-circuit course. MADDOW: That`s incredible. When you described wing rock, what did you mean by that? You could see potential in going to a wing rock situation before total loss of control? FEITH: If you look at the video, the wings were rolling back and forth, left and right. And then, the airplane pitched over and went into the ground. You know, that could be evidence of either a mechanical malfunction with what we call the roll control. That is there`s two parts for the wings. And that`s called the ailerons. And they cause the airplanes to roll. So, when the pilot wants to roll right, one aileron goes up and one goes down to induce the roll. There could have been a problem in roll control. There could have been other kind of mechanical problem. And then, of course, the pilot was having a medical issue and became paralyzed because of the medical issue or, you know, wasn`t able to maintain control of the airplane. The airplane went in at a very high rate of speed. So, it looks like the engine was still operating at a pretty good power setting at the time of impact. MADDOW: Greg, you described earlier how this P-51 Mustang aircraft is, again, a World War II vintage aircraft but heavily modified for the purposes of racing -- and, obviously, that means a lot more power, big engines so that it can go very fast. The plane would have also had to have been modified so the pilot could control it at those speeds. And those would in effect be safety modifications. What kind of safety modifications and equipment would this have? FEITH: Well, typically, you know, you want to have as light an airplane as possible. So the airplane has to meet a specific standard set forth by the FAA for this type of operation. But when we look at the controllability, there are going to be certain characteristics that are designed into the airplane to handle the very high aerodynamic forces. So rather than having the normal size control wire or control cable you would use to operate the ailerons or the rudder or the elevator, they may go to an oversized cable that can handle the stresses. So, the airplanes are built and redesigned, if you will, to handle the high aerodynamic forces that are typically induced with high speed flight. And the folks that work on the airplanes and modify them and build them are highly experienced at this. And this particular pilot and this particular race team was very well known. They put together a very good airplane. And so, whatever the case was that resulted in this tragic accident, it`s going to be key to find out if they can identify a mechanical malfunction or failure. Because they`ll have to look and see is it isolated to this type of airplane or this particular airplane, or is this a potential systemic issue amongst the air racing airplane? So, they`re going to have their job cut out as far as trying to piece together and identify mechanical issues. MADDOW: We`re speaking with Greg Feith, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. I should mention that we are awaiting any moment now a press conference from the scene at this Reno air races crash, Stead Airport in Reno, to learn more about, frankly, the injury toll and death toll associated with this dramatic and horrific crash of a vintage World War II aircraft into a box seating area on site at this air crash in the middle of a race. Greg, obviously when the NTSB is investigating plane crashes, it is looking for things that will prevent other planes from crashing. But as you described earlier, this event, this air race in Reno is one of its kind event. There aren`t other air race events like this in the world, at least not ones exactly like this. And so there isn`t much to extrapolate to in terms of this as an event to be sorted sought that you can prevent this from happening. There aren`t that many other aircraft like this. When the NTSB arrives on site in the morning, which we`re told they will, what will they be looking for first, I guess? FEITH: Well, there are a couple parts to your question as far as an answer. The NTSB is going to be looking, of course, to determine if there was a problem with the airplane. And like you said, yes, this is a very specialized air race. It`s a one of a kind. However, these airplanes, even though they`re modified, there are a lot of war birds, airplane that are similar to this that fly in air shows all over the world. So they`re going to have to try to determine if there is an issue with the airplane that could be systemic to airplanes that don`t necessarily fly in air races but they do fly in air shows in front of large crowds, because we don`t want to have any kind of control issues. The second part of that question that you asked as far as an answer is that the FAA is going to have to take a hard look. We know that there`s been a previous history of accidents, including fatalities over the years at Reno. And while every one of those pilots, just like a NASCAR team is trying to mitigate risk when it comes to racing, they`re going to have to really take a very hard look at is it too far or too out of control? That is have the airplanes been so highly modified that in an event like this there was no chance for the pilot to take any kind of corrective action and prevent this from happening. And either they`re going to move the show line back, that is where the spectator sit or they`re going to move the racecourse out which won`t make it enjoyable for spectators. Or, two, they may just stop the program altogether. MADDOW: Greg Feith, former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, just invaluable insight to you have here about us tonight, Greg. Thank you so much for your team. FEITH: You`re very welcome. Again, we`ve been told that there were multiple FAA inspectors on site at the time when this plane crash occurred at the Reno air races. We are told that the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, their investigators will be arriving in the morning to try to piece this together. We are awaiting a press conference from the site of this crash tonight. Joining us now as we await that press conference is Mackenzie Warren from KRNV, our NBC affiliate in Reno, who was an eyewitness to this incident. Mackenzie, we spoke with Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks, Nevada, saying they have seen nine patients. They`ve got five in serious condition. Renown Health Center says that two people who came to that center have died. I consider those to be the first two confirmed fatalities, although the pilot is also presumed dead here. Do you expect, Mackenzie, that there will be walking wounded? That there will people who have not yet been treated, who start to seek treatment in coming hours tonight? MACKENZIE WARREN, KRNV REPORTER (via telephone): You know, Rachel, I can tell you that right after this accident, that`s when the triage kicked into gear. So, we saw a lot of people getting treated on the scene. We lost track counting ambulances leaving here, setting the death toll of three, from seeing all the blood and gore -- I can`t imagine that this death toll wouldn`t be climbing. You know, our local area hospitals are inundated. This press conference is just about to start. They`re making an announcement. The governor, Governor Brian Sandoval, is actually going to be landing here at Reno Stead. We`re just hearing this over the microphone now. Our governor will be coming here to speak with us. It`s a tragedy in our state. I want to add some things to the sound bite you just played, talk about these aircrafts are changed and transformed in order to race. Actually, these jets were grounded this week. Their engines were modified. The FAA found this was not safe. Actually, one of the pilots was test flying and said her plane -- to a tail fire. That was a decision that led to the jets being grounded. So, certainly, we can imagine the FAA will be looking at this. Pylon to pylon planes going faster than NASCAR in the air. It`s still a sketchy scene right here. We`re trying to wait for more details on how many people are hurt, how many casualties, and, of course, what caused the plane to go down. MADDOW: Mackenzie, we are awaiting the start of that press conference. We hear it will be soon. If you`re answering me and the press conference starts, feel free to just throw it back to me and we will carry the press conference live here on MSNBC. In terms of the scene there and what the response has been like, would you describe it as orderly, as if there was an emergency plan that went into action in a way that seemed to address the situation in a coherent way? WARREN: You know what, it was orderly. It was chaotic the first couple minutes. And then it did go very swiftly. There were clearly people in charge, a lot of military here. So many people knowing what they were doing. Responders were very quick. There are a lot of the doctors and nurses on staff that immediately jumped into action. So, I wasn`t chaotic. But certainly the mood was fearful. It was very unknown. People had different vantage points, saw different things, wondered if they knew someone who was in that pit when they went down in a plane. I think there`s a bit of confusion, but I would say that it was an orderly response overall. MADDOW: I don`t -- I don`t want you to get too specific if you do not want. But one of the things that I`m trying to grasp and try to help our viewers grasp is the number of people in total who may have been directly in the path of this incident. The spokesperson for the air racing association describing a three-tiered area of box seats, each box seat holding about 15 people. How large a geographic area were people -- did you see injured people in after the event? Were people thrown clear of the area or was it a concentrated area? WARREN: You know, it`s hard to tell because I`m judging it by pictures now. That is warping my memory from what I initially saw. But the pictures look like a concert, you know, a packed field, a packed area of spectators watching this race that was covered in debris and flood, flesh, and parts of this plane. I mean, this was a fast race. It was a highlight of the race, 500 miles per hour. We can only guess that`s how fast the pilot was racing when he went down. But it was pretty intense scene -- Rachel. MADDOW: The pilot we know is being identified as Jimmy Leeward of Ocala, Florida. He`s the owner of the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team. "The Associated Press" is describing him as a well known racing pilot. His Web site describing him as having flown in more than 120 races. He`s also served as a stunt pilot in numerous movies, including the movie "Amelia" and "The Cloud Dancer." "The Associated Press" digging up an interview that he did with the "Ocala Star Banner" last week describing how he has flown 250 types of planes, but that he has a particular fondness for the P-51 Mustang. The P- 51 is the plane that he appears to have crashed in tonight. His quote to the "Ocala Star Banner" last year about the P-51, quote, "They`re more fun. More speed, more challenge. Speed, speed, and more speed." Again, as Mackenzie has been describing, this really is -- you can think of this as sort of a car race in the sky, a car race involving airplanes. The planes fly close to each other. They also fly at very, very low altitude, as low as 50 feet off the ground, at speeds that sometimes do surpass 500 miles per hour. As I described, this was a vintage aircraft but a highly, highly modified one. Speaking with an NTSB investigator earlier, describing the planes as modified not only for speed but for the additional control that the pilot will need over an aircraft that is modified to go that fast. When you have engines that big and that much power packed into these types of planes, you need to change the pilot`s controls to allow for maneuverability just so they can be flown. So, this is a highly modified aircraft. The pilots following in this race an oval path around pylons -- the distance and speeds depending on the class of aircraft. We have a bit of tape here from a woman who was an eyewitness to this event. Somebody says that she has been to a number of air races and seen aircraft have to pull out of races but not like the way that this ended tonight. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unlimited races were going on. On the third lap, second or third lap, it came up over this hangar that we`re standing next to. Pulled out of the race and did kind of a mayday as he was going up. And it finally turned and did a nosedive and then it turned over to the -- in front of the grandstand and did a nosedive all the way down and went straight down. We saw everything -- the plane just splattered into the box seats from what we`ve heard. REPORTER: And, I mean, when you were seeing this, what was going there are your mind? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, identify seen this before. Planes pull out because they have problems and do this little mayday and the fire trucks come in and they land safely. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just came up. He was behind Voodoo, wasn`t he? I`m not sure. He was coming up towards the grand stands. And all of a sudden, I heard a pop -- a little pop. And then it just the airplane went straight up. There was a bit of a flutter and it went straight up and kind of rolled over a little bit, and then nosed over and went straight down. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Eyewitness reports to tonight`s plane crash at the Reno air races. Again, what we know at this hour is a vintage World War II aircraft P-51 Mustang, heavily modified, not only to go fast, but to allow the pilot to control it at high speeds. The pilot who was presumed dead, obviously, after the scale of this impact was an 80-year-old pilot, but a very, very, very experienced pilot who had been a stunt pilot in movies and ran a respected air racing team called the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team. His name is Jimmy Leeward and was -- he was a real estate developer based in Ocala, Florida. In terms of casualties on the ground, we do have a report from one Nevada health center that two of the people there as injured persons after this crash have died. That Renown Health Center has seen 22 patients in all, nine in critical condition. Again, they are reporting two deaths, plus the presumed death of the pilot in this case. At this hour, we await an imminent press conference on scene from Stead Air Base in Reno, Nevada, again, the site of tonight`s crash. As that happens tonight, we will bring that you to here live here on MSNBC. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking news at this hour, the national championship air races is an event in Reno, Nevada, that every year draws thousands of people in September to watch various military and civilian planes race. It`s like NASCAR but in the sky. And today, what has happened at the national championship air races in Reno, Nevada, is being described as a mass casualty incident. A vintage World War II plane flown by an 80-year-old pilot, a P-51 Mustang, flown by 80-year-old Jimmy Leeward of Ocala, Florida, crashed into a grandstand area. There were two areas of seating that we can see from the footage that we have from the site tonight. A larger grandstand area from which we have -- from which the footage we`re showing you tonight was taken from handheld camera and a different area of box seats. It was the box seat area that appears to have been directly impacted by this plane. The latest dispatch from "The Associated Press," we have a description from some eyewitnesses to the crash. I will warn you -- this is a little bit graphic. I will tell what you the eyewitnesses are describing. Maureen Higgins (ph) of Alabama, she`s being coming to the show for 16 years, she said the pilot was on his third lap when he lost control. Ms. Higgins says she was sitting about 30 yards away from the crash. She watched as the man in front of her, so also about 30 yards from the crash started bleeding after a piece of debris from the crash hit him in the head. Quote from Ms. Higgins, this is gory, forgive me, was, quote, "I saw body parts and gore like you wouldn`t believe it. I`m talking an arm, a leg. The alive people were missing body parts. I`m not kidding you. It was gore, unbelievable gore." Again, the pilot in this case, Jimmy Leeward, 80 years old of Ocala, Florida, a person involved in real estate, real estate developer but also a very experienced air racing pilot and a stunt pilot for movies, he is considered to be among the dead. As of right now, we have three confirmed dead. Renown Medical Center nearby the crash site confirmed that two people who they have seen after this event tonight have died in addition to the pilot. A spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical tells the associated press tonight that emergency crews and there appear to have been dozens of ambulances on scene taking people to local hospitals, emergency crews took a total of 56 victims to three area hospitals. Those are the 56 people that went in ambulances, who went in emergency response vehicles. The spokesperson for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority also says that in addition to those 56, a number of other people were transported away from the crash site and presumably to hospitals who were in private vehicles. So, those are -- those people who are transported by private vehicle are not being included in this count of 56 people transported to hospital already. Of the 56 people who were transported at the time -- they were transported, at the time they were put into ambulances, of those 56, 15 were considered to be in critical condition, 13 in serious condition and 28 people considered to have non-serious or nonlife threatening injuries. Again, the total death toll confirmed at this point is three. That may or may not rise -- obviously, the hope is that does not rise. But there are a number of very seriously injured people because of this crash. The national championship air races again in Reno, Nevada. This is an annual event. There have been crashes in recent years at this event in which pilots were killed. But not ones in which bystanders were killed. A weatherman on site from KRNV-TV, Jeff Martinez, was just outside the air race grounds at the time of the crash as an eyewitness. He says that he saw the plane veer to the right and then it just augured straight into the ground. We`ve been able to be joined tonight and we`re lucky to have him, by Greg Feith, who is a former director of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is, of course, the government agency that investigates crashes like this. Greg, thanks very much for joining us. I appreciate having you here. FEITH: You`re welcome. MADDOW: In terms of air races and air shows and other types of events like this in which airplanes are doing things, you don`t see them do in typical daily life, and which there are people on the ground watching, what are the other types of incidents that have been more typical in terms of safety incidents at these events? This obviously is not a -- this is a very, very a typical event. FEITH: Unlike the Reno air race itself, a lot of the general public typically goes to see an air show, either at an airport or military base. And you see a variety of different types of flying, from aerobatic flying with small single-engine airplanes, to the military formation flying with the Blue Angels and the Thunderstorms. And that happens typically around the world. There are other air show teams, military and nonmilitary, that perform. And in the recent past, we`ve seen and we`ve had unfortunately experienced accidents involving a variety of different types of airplanes that have crashed into the air show crowd. One was very notable in Germany where we had a military team that was performing. They had a problem with an airplane. And it`s unfortunately went into the show crowd and killed a number of folks. We`ve had a couple of military airplanes at some of the Air Force bases around where because the airplane was being flown as low level and they had a problem. The pilot was able to bail out. But the airplane then goes uncontrolled into various parts of the surrounding area. And, unfortunately, a couple have gone into houses. So, you know, it`s not -- people shouldn`t be fearful of it. But that is just the inherent risk with air shows and air racing. But again, the government not only here in the United States but around the world and the air show community does a lot to mitigate the risk. This is just an unfortunate accident which needs to be identified as -- from a cause standpoint so if there was a systemic problem or an issue that could identified and safety can be enhanced, then, of course, that`s going to be the purpose of the investigation. MADDOW: Greg Feith, former NTSB investigator, we`re awaiting a press conference on-site at the Reno air crash. Stay with us here on MSNBC. Again, what we got right now in terms of a casualty count is we know at least 56 people were transported from the crash site to local hospitals, at least 56 people. I say "at least" because the number 56 is the number of people transported in emergency vehicles and official vehicles like ambulances. And there were dozens of ambulances and indeed we heard air ambulances on site to take people to medical facilities. Fifty-six is the number of people who went in vehicles like that. Additional people went to seek medical care or who left the site visibly wounded in private vehicles. So we expect that the number of injured will rise. At this point, the number of confirmed deaths in this incident is three, that includes the pilot -- an 80-year-old very experienced stunt pilot flying a modified vintage aircraft at this air racing event, an experienced air racer as well as being an experienced stunt pilot. He is among the three dead. We do not have identities for the other two people who are confirmed by local hospitals who have been killed tonight in this incident in Reno. We don`t have identities. They are telling us ahead that it is from Renown Health Center nearby the air crash site where they have identified two additional people killed. At this point, we`re awaiting a press conference with the latest details from the Stead Air Base in the Reno area. We had one very informal press conference early we are officials from the racing organization that puts on the Reno air race. Again, minimal information available at this time, even in with the advantage of having reporters on scene who were eyewitnesses to what happened in the immediate aftermath, it`s been harder to get exact details on what happened. Joining us now is Deputy Armando Avina with the Washoe County sheriff`s office. Deputy, thank you very much for joining us. What can you update us on in terms of the toll here and what`s happening in terms of the emergency response? DEPUTY ARMANDO AVINA, WASHOE COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE (via telephone): Well, thank you for having us. Absolutely, this is a tragic accident that happened here in Reno, Nevada, at 4:30 p.m. What I can tell you is that this is where I call the local first responders responded to the call. We don`t have actual numbers. We do understand that officials from the NTSB, FAA, local law enforcement are here to assist with the investigation. Numbers -- we do know people were injured and transported. But at this time we are awaiting the arrival of Governor Sandoval who is going to stand by at the press conference happens here in the next few minutes. So, that is the delay at this time. MADDOW: At this point, you`re awaiting to start the press conference. The governor is on scene? AVINA: Yes, he has -- his office informed us that he will be attending the press conference. And that is what we`re waiting for. MADDOW: In terms of the emergency response here, is there -- is there a plan in place for responding in the event of emergencies at this air race event? Obviously, there have been fatalities at this event in the past, not spectator fatalities, but pilot fatalities. Is this something that regionally there is some sort of coordinated emergency response plan? AVINA: Absolutely. I mean we`re talking now, it is a critical incident. These people train for this. We hope it would never happen. But now that it has happened, the people are trained. The people are aware of what they need to do. They`re staying professional. Bu, absolutely, this is a tragic event that happened here within our county of Washoe County. And, you know, the people that came to enjoy this event. It is tragic experience for a lot of people. So, at this time, yes, we`re trying to get the numbers to see how many people we do have that are deceased, how many people are injured, how many are critical to moderate. Whoever was here and witnessed the event, it`s going to stay with them for a long time. MADDOW: Deputy Avina, when an incident is described as a mass casualty incident, one of the things that springs to mind is whether there is adequate -- whether there is adequate health response available. Are the local hospitals equipped and able to deal with dozens of people seeking traumatic injury care at once? Is there -- have you heard any reports from hospitals, for example, of a need for donated blood or for any other resources that they will be calling from outside the immediate region? AVINA: Absolutely, we do. We have three local hospitals here. We have our Remsa (ph) units that were able to respond. We also have the Care Flight Helicopter that was able to respond. First responders responded timely. It was absolutely amazing the way the response came and the way that we were able to get in and get people treated, examined. So the way we all came together -- it was a disaster that we have planned. It`s only through training that we`re able to accomplish this when it does occur. In this case, we`re sad to inform that it has happened, but we were prepared. And those people that did get the services in a timely manner. MADDOW: Sheriff County Deputy Armando Avina, thank you for taking time to update us, sir. Appreciate your time tonight. Good luck. AVINA: You`re very welcome. MADDOW: Joining us now on the phone is reporter Andrew Del Greco from our Reno affiliate, KRNV TV. Andrew, we spoke with you last hour. Are you able to update us any further on the emergency response or on the toll? ANDREW DEL GRECO, KRNV TV: You know, we are waiting, as you know, for Governor Brian Sandoval to speak. We might be getting some more information on that. You just heard from Deputy Avina about the response from all of the law enforcement officials. I`ve been talking to several pilots here, actually very impressed with the way law enforcement did respond. That all, of course, goes to the training that they do. At this point, the confirmed dead I believe is at three, from what we`re being told. And hopefully we`ll get more numbers of casualties very soon. I also heard you mention the hospitals. Yeah, word is that the hospitals have called in extra personnel. They`re all stacked up. There are three hospitals in the Reno area. We`re hearing that they`re asking for blood donors right now. From what I`m hearing, type O Blood is what they`re looking for right now. But no doubt this is an unprecedented incident that will go down in history here in Northern Nevada. MADDOW: The regional hospitals that are involved here that we know of, Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks, Nevada, Renoun (ph) Health Center and St. Mary`s Regional Medical all receiving patients from the airfield. Northern Nevada Medical Center having received nine patients. Renoun says they have received 22. Renoun is the health center that is confirming two spectator fatalities in addition to the pilot fatality. We do not yet have a patient count from St. Mary`s Regional, at least if there has been on yet. At this point, I do not know of it. Andrew, in terms of the way that this has unfolded on the ground, there are some reports that in addition to the 56 people who were transported by official emergency vehicles, there`s a number of people who may have sought help and left to receive medical treatment in private vehicles. Have you been seeing walking wounded or other people not being treated in hospitals, but maybe taking care of themselves in some way? DEL GRECO: No, there was a report from Mike Townsend (ph), who is the head of the National Air Races, that there were some people who were taken to hospitals possibly maybe by the people they were with and then those people had since left the hospital. I did not see any walking wounded, so to speak. Just arriving on scene and seeing a few dozen ambulances leaving the scene. Not sure about any of the walking wounded. I can tell that you there are a lot of adults, of course, who come out to this race. But in talking to more people, there are also several children that were here as well. So, you know, the first thought that comes to mind, of course, any kind of casualty is really depressing, frankly. We`re hoping that there won`t be any young casualties as well. Just from talking to some people that are just all ages here, even young people. So I guess we`ll find out at some point a little more on the casualties or injuries. MADDOW: Andrew, is the scene emptying out as emergency response crews have sort of finished their work, in terms of getting the injured to safety? Or is the scene still getting more crowded, as people are staging there for the press conference and other things? DEL GRECO: Yeah, right now, you have most of the Stead Airport has cleared out. All the spectators have since left. Of course, frankly, it was a big mess as far as traffic leaving the Stead Airport a few hours ago. Right now, it is really just the different media personnel, the different law enforcement officials, all of us waiting for Governor Brian Sandoval to speak. But really I would say three dozen people here in this media center, kind of in a corner of the airport. But the rest of the airport really not a lot going on. A lot of people have since gone home tonight. MADDOW: Andrew Del Greco from KRNV, our NBC affiliate in Reno, awaiting this press conference with us. Andrew, thank you very much. We`ll be back with you. Again, we`re awaiting a press conference on scene at Reno Stead Airport. Nevada`s governor, Brian Sandoval, is due on scene in moments. We just heard from sheriff`s deputy from Washoe County that once Governor Sandoval is there, they will start the press conference to give us the update. It is cold and it is gory, but it is true. One of the things we`re waiting on right now, to understand the scope of this disaster in Reno, is the number of people who were killed and injured. We do not have exact numbers on that right now. The number of confirmed dead at this point is three. The only of those person who has been identified is the pilot, the 80-year-old pilot of this aircraft, Jimmy Leeward, 80 years old, of Ocala (ph), Florida. In terms of the pilot -- in terms of plane that Mr. Leeward was flying, it`s a P-51 mustang. This particular plane is called the Galloping Ghost. The statistics available from Leeward Air Ranch Racing, which was his company, tell us that the flight -- the pilot -- excuse me, the plane was 32 feet, three inches long, the a wing span of just under 29 feet. It weighs 7,600 pounds. The single engine in this is a V-12 Packard V-1650 liquid-cooled super charged engine, 3,800 horsepower, which is a lot of horsepower for a small plane. Maximum speed of 550 miles per hour at 5,000 feet. This is a plane heavily, heavily modified to be able to fly not only at race speed, but in race condition. Again, this event at the Reno Air Races is -- it`s been described tonight as sort of NASCAR in the sky. The planes -- as you see here, these are not planes in trouble. These are planes participating in the race, this very, very low altitude and a very high speed. They go in a sort of an oval track in the sky around pylons. In this case, the plane that crashed described as having experienced a bit of a wing roll possibly, and then it pulled straight up. And then observers describe watching in horror as it nose dived and came down at almost a 90-degree vertical angle to the ground, crashing into box seats of spectators. We await a full toll of the injured and killed and the press conference from Reno Stead Airport tonight. Stay with us here on MSNBC. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking news continues this hour, as three people are confirmed dead and at least 56 injured, potentially as high as 75 injured. The rough numbers on injuries are due to the fact that nobody has given us a concrete total on them. We are getting specific totals of injured from those transported to hospitals, from the individual hospitals, and from observers giving an estimated number. The incident is an air crash. A plane, a small, World War II era vintage aircraft, a P-51 Mustang, modified for racing purposes, that crashed into a seating area at the Reno Air Races. At this point, what we know about the pilot, who is one of the deceased, is that his name is Jimmy Leeward of Ocala, Florida, an 80-year-old pilot. He is owner of the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team, a well known racing pilot, a man who says that he has flown 250 different types of planes in his career, has flown in more than 120 races, has been a stunt pilot a numerous movies. The P-51, he stated in a recent interview last year, was his favorite aircraft to fly. He at least had a particular fondness for this P-51 aircraft which crashed today. This particular one is called the Galloping Ghost. As modified for racing, this aircraft is 32 feet long. The wing span is 28 feet, 11 inches. It`s about 14 feet high. It weighs 7,600 pounds. It is a single engine V-12 Packard, liquid cooled, supercharged engine. Horsepower about 3,800. Maximum speed of 550 miles per hour. That maximum speed is given for a height of 5,000 feet. This aircraft was clearly not flying at 5,000 feet before it started to have trouble and then crashed. The type of race that this was in is relatively low altitude race -- a low altitude race in which aircraft are circling, or flying oval shaped laps. Very exciting race for spectators, obviously, because of the very high speed of the aircraft, combined with their very low altitude. Joining us now, once again, is Greg Feith, a former NTSB investigator. Actually, I should interrupt myself here, because what we`re going to be able to go to right now, I hope, is the press conference from Stead Airfield in Reno, including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. We`re going to this live right now in Reno. You`re watching MSNBC as we continue our breaking news coverage of the air disaster at the Reno Air Races tonight. MIKE HOUGHTON, PRES. AND CEO, RENO AIR RACING ASSOCIATION: I`m sorry it`s taken so long to get back out to you a little late. As you can tell, we`ve had a lot of people that we`ve gotten together. And we`ve been discussing other elements of this tragedy, so we can move forward. First of all, our hearts go out to all of the families, the fans, those that were injured today. We`re still working on some of those issues, as well, as well as you can imagine. The -- give you a couple comments. The NTSB is taking over the site, the investigation, and the release of specific numbers in different categories. I will say that we had a total of -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty four. HOUGHTON: -- fifty four that were engaged and injuries. They`ve all been transported. The hospitals are providing some information as they see fit. But of those numbers, those are just the ones that were injured and transported. We do not have a final count as far as the number of deceased. And the NTSB has -- as I say, have taken it over. They will be releasing those numbers as they have them, along with the medical examiner. There are some that have been deceased. Some people`s status has changed from the time they left the field. I do want to clarify and clear up one thing that I misspoke. Jimmy Leeward would be really mad at me. He was only 74. All his medical records and everything were up to date, spot on. And Jimmy was a very experienced and talented, qualified pilot. The family process is still moving along. I`m not certain if they will hold a public memorial. I`m speaking, as best I can, for knowing the grief that they`re going through and knowing them personally, that they will probably not want it very public. They`re going to want to come to some personal closure with friends and their folks. So timing and where -- I`m not positive as to what is going to take place. We are working on getting together a more public memorial that has -- actually, the air race is doing that. We`re all devastated by this tragedy. And we`re doing everything we can to move along and communicate and work with the folks that are directly and adversely affected by this. That`s about all I`ve got for you right now. I wish I could tell you more. I don`t know a whole lot more. I will take some questions if you`d like. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many are in critical conditions? HOUGHTON: I don`t have that specific number. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many confirmed casualties? HOUGHTON: I don`t have that specific number that I`m allowed to release. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the plane flying too close to spectators? HOUGHTON: No, the plane was flying on its course. Speculation has gone on a different -- a number of different areas as to what took place. Different people see different things. But there appear to be some -- an air flight problem with the aircraft that caused it to go out of control. And we all know what the end result was. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does this mean for the air race this is year and the years to come? HOUGHTON: This year our board is all in 100 percent concurrence that in spite of the families` wishes that we continue with the event for this weekend, we`re going to choose to close it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in years to come, what do you think? HOUGHTON: We`re going to take one day at a time. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say the NTSB will remain here at the scene, does that mean that it is going to be closed? Will this be closed to all air traffic? HOUGHTON: The airport is closed to all air traffic. We are hopeful to have some information regarding outbound traffic by tomorrow morning. There are a lot of aircraft that are here that would like to leave, I have no doubt, especially since the event is canceled. So they`re going to remain on site until they finish their work. They`re very thorough. They`re going to work at their schedule. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any idea how long it will take? Weeks? Days? HOUGHTON: You know, it really depends. I couldn`t speak for how long and how fast they`re going to work. They`re just going to do their job and finish it. They do have someone coming in from Washington who is a board member. And their team then will lead the communications process. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe this was a mechanical issue? HOUGTON: That`s what I`m hearing. The best knowledge that we`ve got -- we haven`t had a chance to look at or see any photographs in order to begin analyzing it. The NTSB is going to capture anything that we have access to, to specifically try and identify it. What I`m telling you is what hearsay has flown forward. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike, this isn`t the first deadly crash at the air races. How has the response tailored to today, knowing that you guys have been there before? HOUGHTON: We`ve had different -- every incident is different. What we try and do each year is to go through a mass casualty exercise as an organization. We do that every two years. And we set up different scenarios that we work on those processes. From the standpoint of everything that we should have done after the incident took place, Washoe County, Reno, the entire community came together and did a great job, in the most professional way possible. If you look at the timing numbers, it was incredible. In 62 minutes from the time the incident took place, it was secured. That`s remarkable when you look at the level of the mass casualty. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has the body of the pilot been recovered, removed from the scene? HOUGHTON: I don`t have that information yet. And his wife`s asked me the same thing. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We noticed that about 45 minutes after this, a lot of planes headed south. Was that coincidental? Were planes being told to go someplace else? Or do you know anything about that? HOUGHTON: Any planes that were scheduled to come to here, that were going to come in, are always rerouted. And they were rerouted probably to Reno Tahoe. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the first time a crash has involved spectators? HOUGHTON: Yes, it is. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you clarify exactly where the plane hit, which part of the grandstand? HOUGHTON: It was not on the grand stands. It was on the tarmac, in the area where we have box seats, a little bit east of center. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going forward, do you have any idea whether people will remain seated there? Or is that something you`ll look at in the coming years? HOUGHTON: That`s way too far in advance for us to look at. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you talking to the pilots that were also in this heat, that maybe were behind, ahead? Are they adding any insights to what went on? HOUGHTON: We haven`t gotten any feedback from them as yet. But we`re having a meetings with -- (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow to discuss a number of these types of issues. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about what kind of guy Jimmy was, what he meant to the air racing community? HOUGHTON: He was a close personal friend. Well liked. Jimmy was Jimmy. Great guy, great family man. Very active in aviation, member of the board of the Experiment Aircraft Association. Did a lot of stunt flying for movies. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had he ever been an airline pilot or military pilot? HOUGHTON: I`m not sure of his military background. He was not a commercial pilot. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s flown in the races before. Do you know how many years? HOUGHTON: Since `75 was his first race. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe the plane more, what it looks like? HOUGHTON: Just take a look at the program. It is a P-51 base. It`s flown here a number of times in the past. They prepared the airplane to bring it back this year. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have an estimate of how many spectators were here today? HOUGHTON: You know, I apologize. I haven`t gotten that number at all. I haven`t had a chance to see those numbers. It was a very good Friday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many can it hold? How many typically are here? HOUGHTON: In the grand stands, we can hold about 10,000 -- in our permanent grandstands, over 10,000. In the temporary grandstands, 300 to 400 down in the box seat area. And then numerous counts for two miles along the (INAUDIBLE). We have the capability of holding 60,000 to 75,000 people here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- scrambling that knew they had family here at the races. Anyone been reported missing, a chance that that 54 could go up? HOUGHTON: We have gotten some calls from people around the world. This is an international event. And we want to provide the best possible contact information, so we can give them information about people that they`re looking for. Washoe County Emergency Operation Center is establishing a phone number. And I`m kind of hoping that somebody whispers it in my ear very shortly and we`ll ask you to please pass that number out in all your reports, so that they have a central point now that they can call in. It`s manned by professionals that are equipped to gather the information and then disseminate the information and work through the emergency process. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was part of his family here today? Did they witness the crash? HOUGHTON: Yes, sir. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many members of the family? HOUGHTON: I`m not sure how many were here. Jimmy`s got a pretty good sized family. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike, this is a danger of sports. These planes fly at high speed. Can you talk about the acceptance of the risk that the pilots take when they get in these planes and fly every year? HOUGHTON: Every race pilot understands the risks. They are perhaps the best pilots in the entire world. They`re -- most of them are very skilled and very experienced at doing this. You take aviation, aviation -- in flying an airplane, there are certain risks just in taking off and landing. When you add the other dimension of racing, it`s -- it`s a fast sport. And it`s not unlike Indianapolis or NASCAR. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m trying to understand how so many people got injured. Having not seen the crash myself, did the plane continue to move along after it hit? Do you understand what -- HOUGHTON: I don`t know. I haven`t heard that. It -- you can just imagine something as it impacts, it`s going to scatter. And this is an open -- kind of an open seating area that has convention type -- the boxes will hold up to 15 people in each box. It is fairly dense. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you heard from anyone that he tried to avoid hitting spectators at the end? HOUGHTON: I`ve heard that. But I haven`t seen that or confirmed that. If it was in Jimmy`s power, he would have done everything he possibly could. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was a safety worker -- (INAUDIBLE) -- HOUGHTON: Here we go. We`ll just take it firsthand. The number for the families to call is -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 211. HOUGHTON: Locally. How about from out of state? Do we have that? OK. So 211 locally is the local number to call. That will go right into the emergency center. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was -- what was his safety record? Are you aware of his record as a pilot and his health? HOUGHTON: Tip top health. Medical records are all in order. All of his medical certificates to fly were in order. I don`t recall any incident involving Jimmy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard some speculation that this could be the last air races, given that the changes to insurance policy, I guess. Do you have any comment to that? HOUGHTON: I really don`t. It`s too soon. It`s speculation at this point. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The memorial tomorrow is not public? HOUGHTON: I think on behalf of the family, that would be best. I`m not sure if their timing is going to change or not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is ending the air races something that the board will consider, though, in light of this accident today? HOUGHTON: Just as everything that we do, we look at it from A to Z. We have an incredible board that looks at all the options. And it`s not just us. There`s a rather large race community. And we will talk to the race classes and the pilots. And we`ll evaluate what we do tomorrow. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much money do these air races bring in for the local economy over here? HOUGHTON: The local economy is -- between 85 million dollars for the week. So it`s a significant contribution to our local community. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the normal flight path over this seating area? HOUGHTON: No, there is absolutely no flight path that goes anywhere near the crowd. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the plane veered off course then after it lost control -- HOUGHTON: That`s what I`ve been told, yes. Anything else? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you witness the crash yourself? HOUGHTON: I did not. I was doing something that I had to do, which is paperwork. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know his age, the pilot`s age? HOUGHTON: Jimmy was 74. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventy four. HOUGHTON: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you do another press conference? HOUGHTON: Let me seek council. It is going to be driven off the NTSB. Once we get counsel from them as far as what is our latitude and what they wish us to do, we`ll be in a better position. And hopefully our folks will get a press release out to inform me on that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they here already, the NTSB? HOUGHTON: They`re on site anyway. We have a three-man team here -- or a three person team. And the actual lead representative from the NTSB is dispatched from Washington whenever there is an incident that involves them. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So more are coming? HOUGHTON: There`s definitely only one we know of. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. MADDOW: Press conference tonight at Reno Stead Airport, which is now closed to traffic. The air race is canceled obviously there, after disaster tonight in which at least 54 people were injured, at least three people were killed. Mike Houghton speaking at the press conference here tonight. He is president and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. He`s flanked, you saw there, there by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Again, the totals now, one dead on scene, the pilot of the vintage World War II aircraft that crashed into the box seats at the Reno Air Races. Two dead at Renoun health center; 54 additional people, other than those two who died at Renoun Health Center -- 54 additional people transported to hospitals. Jimmy Leeward, the pilot of this plane, the confirmed death that we have a name for. Not 80 years old as reported earlier erroneously, but rather 74 years old. Described as in good health, with up to date medical records. A very experienced stunt pilot and air racing pilot. Owner of the Leeward Air Ranch Racing Team. The plane, we were told, was flying on its course. It was not off course. The pilot`s family, sadly, was on scene and saw the crash. Mr. Houghton tonight saying it appears to have been a problem with the aircraft, but we do not know. The box seat area that the plane crashed into has a capacity of 300 to 400 people. We don`t know how many people were sitting there at the time of the crash. Two local notes, in case you`re in the Reno area and you are watching us, if you need local information in term of missing persons, the local number in the Reno area to call is an information number, 211. Also in the Reno area, they are looking for blood donations at local health centers. As is the case in mass casualty events, it is particularly important if you`re Type O blood, universal donor, to donate blood in the Reno area today. Again, plane crash into the crowd at this Reno, Nevada air race tonight. Continuing breaking news and developments as we learn more. Stay with us here at MSNBC through the night. Thanks for being with us. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END