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Pilot Identified In Fatal Crash At Reno Air Races Preliminary Heat

Update: Sept. 9 7 a.m. - Qualifying Heat To Resume

Qualifying heats are scheduled to resume this morning at the Reno Air Races....a day after a pilot died in a crash on the course.

The Reno Air Race Association says 64-year old Lee Behel from San Jose was trying to qualify for the races when his plane, the "sweet dreams," went down yesterday afternoon. 

Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez says the plane suffered a "significant structural failure" in an area far from the grandstand where 11 people were killed during a crash in 2011

The Air Race Association says Behel was a retired Air Force Fighter pilot.

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Air Races open to the public Wednesday.

Update: 11:00 p.m. - Pilot identified

Multiple media outlets, including the Reno Gazette-Journal, are reporting the identity of the pilot killed Monday when his plane crashed during a preliminary heat of the Reno Championship Air Races as Lee Behel.

Behel, 64, was a retired Nevada Air National Guard pilot, and was competing in the sport class of the event.

Read the Reno Gazette-Journal story.

A video showing Behel being interviewed in July 2013, with the plane he was flying Monday when he was killed during a prelimary heat of the Reno Championship Air Races.

Original story: 5:18 p.m.

A pilot attempting to qualify for the Reno Championship Air Races has crashed.  Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez says the pilot was killed when his plane suffered a "significant structural failure."

"This was a preliminary qualifying heat so there were no spectators at all. So it was basically just pilots and emergency response crews. The location of the crash was well away from where any spectators would have been," says Hernandez.

Race organizers moved the course farther away from spectators two years ago after a 2011 crash killed 11 people.  

All qualifying has been suspended until tomorrow.

The plane crashed a little after 3 p.m. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way.