Raw video: Reno plane crash

Even seasoned rescue workers were shaken in the aftermath of the nation's deadliest air racing disaster, a crash that killed nine and sent about 70 people to Reno-area hospitals.

Yet it could have been far worse, officials say as they investigate what went wrong at the National Championship Air Races.

A World War II-era fighter plane crashed at the edge of the crowd, narrowly missing the grandstand where thousands more peoplewere watching.

"Pilots are a special breed of confident, intelligent, driven perfectionists," said Ken Quick, a commercial airline pilot and a crew member for one of the teams that raced Friday, to the Washington Post. "They know what they do is dangerous and demanding, and they eagerly embrace both."

But the plane's fuel did not catch fire. Emergency workers had drilled for such a disaster, some just hours earlier. And when it came, bystanders helped tend to the wounded with a control that seems contradictory to the devastation.

Even the timing was helpful, coming on a Friday afternoon when most doctors were still at the hospital.

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