Disaster in the Sky

Deadly Air show crash leads to new questions about safety.
3:00 | 09/02/12

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Transcript for Disaster in the Sky
We move to the air show in iowa that took a deadly turn. Spectators watched helplessly as a jet in formation veered out of control and plunged to the ground, killing the pilot. The tragedy raising new questions about the safety of air shows. A warning, the images are disturbing. Here's clayton sandell. Reporter: It was a spectacular trouble-free flight until this. Oh, no, it just crashed. Reporter: Flying in tight formation in dport, iowa, this jet suddenly banks for the ground, r recovering. Glen smith, a veteran pilot was killed. Went nose down into the ground and burst into flames. Reporter: Since 1988, air show accidents in north america have killed more than 100 pilots and performers. But for the 12 million people who enjoy them every year, air shows are almost always safe. It was a terrible crash in the '50s THAT LED TO NEW RULES. Planes must now stay 500 to 1,500 feet away from crowds and avoid flying toward people. There hasn't been a spectator fatality since 1962. That's because of the strict rules that have been in place for nearly 60 years. Reporter: But there are new rules when it comes to the world of air races after this crash last september. A p-51 mustang slams into the crowd in nevada. 11 people were killed. Federal investigators found the plane had performance modifications that were undocumented and untested. This spring, the ntsb called for stricter rules, more training for pilots, and changes to the racecourse, to better avoid spectators. You're going to see people flying planes to the edge of the envelope, and that means also there's just a bit of assumed risk for any audience member. Reporter: For many, a thrill with a risk worth taking. Clayton sandell, abc news. Clayton, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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