Meet Larry Cruz, Reno Air Races crash survivor

Meet Larry Cruz. Larry was at the Reno’s National Championship Air Races last month when The Galloping Ghost crashed. Actually, Larry was under The Galloping Ghost when it crashed.

When the dust and debris settled following the horrific crash of September 16, Larry was barely conscious. Injuries included: a severed right hand, crushed right leg and foot, fractured skull, torn tendons and ligaments in the left arm and hand and extensive shrapnel wounds. His spirit, and desire to live, remained firmly intact.

Larry Cruz

Larry Cruz, on Saturday, October 8 in a bed at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

I stopped by Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center on Saturday, October 8 to pay a visit to Larry. Tracy, his wife (and co-owner of Wings West Governor Exchange and Overhaul) was just about to leave for home. She’d been there since early that morning and needed to get home to look after their 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. She’d return on Sunday (their 28th wedding anniversary).

A King Air 90 medi-vac brought Larry to Seattle from Reno’s St. Mary’s Hospital on September 29. While he’s healing well, doctors have told him he may yet lose his right leg above the knee. The skin grafting has contracted an infection that doctors are trying to contain. Time will tell.

“What do you think?” I asked Larry. “I think I’m gonna be in Reno next September smoking a cigar, drinking a margarita and watching the races.” He also told me to point out that Think Kindness (a northern Nevada non-profit) has started a fund for  victims and family members.

“What can I do to help?” was my next question. “Tell them how important the races are to the aviation community. Tell them the races must go on. They bring $80 million to Reno each year. This is a big deal for the city, plus its a helluva lot of fun. This was flat out an accident, nothing more.”

“What about your business Larry?” Without hesitation, he said, “we’ll continue. It’s just Tracy and I (with some part-time office help), but we’ll make it work. The best thing that could happen is a bunch of people send governors in need of overhaul that don’t need them tomorrow. We’ll work with them, if they’ll work with us.” You can reach Tracy at (800) 557-3188.

Larry’s spirit is infectious. In fact, I left the hospital shaking my head thinking two things: Come September 2012 Reno will see a crush of people like never before, and Larry will be there, smoking a cigar, drinking a margarita and cheering them on.

Remember: Fly Low, Fly Fast, Turn Left! Stay tuned, this story isn’t over yet.


  1. The Rosenberry's says

     I much admire the positive attitude. I live in N. Reno, a few miles away from the crash site. All those affected physically, mentally and emotionally have been in our thoughts the past 2 1/2 months. I still drive by the airfield to pay my respects.
     That being said, we LOVE the Air Races, and hope they will still be on for next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll stroll by the Margarita Blend Off next September and see you there!
     God speed to you and yours!

  2. Winnie Maxine Cruz says

    He’s getting better every time I see him. Always has a positive attitude and the greatest humor. He should be coming home very soon guys!
    I love you dad can’t wait to have you home again!

  3. K, F, & C says

    Larry, I am SO glad to hear you are back home in Washington. You may be the strongest/toughest patient I have ever met. We are sending you and your family best wishes in your recovery and we look forward to seeing you next September in Reno.
    Your REMSA Paramedic Crew

  4. Airrraceaddict says

    Larry, you are a stud. Hang in there. And we’ll be there too. And Tracy, you’re a rock. Larry is a lucky guy in many ways.

  5. Wendy says

    Larry, you’re an amazing inspiration!! Anne’s right, you are a positive person. We were there–and will be there again next year. It would be an honor to meet you. Our best wishes to you and your family!

  6. Kate AV8RX says

    Larry’s an amazing man!  What a great attitude!  YOU ROCK!!  Praying for a speedy and thorough recovery, and great business success!

  7. Dave Desmon says

    Larry –

       You are da’ MAN!  I’ll be there with you in September – Margarita, Cee-gar and all! I got my deposit in already!

       Keep on, keepin’ on my friend!

    See you soon!

     – Dave

  8. Anne says

    I know Larry from the airport (Thun)  He is a very positive man.  MISS YOU LARRY.. We look forward to you coming back in to see us. Keep Smiling. 
    Your Friends @  Spencer Aircraft..
    (we like your hair)

  9. Sandra More says

    Larry, I think you’d be pleased at how many members of our air race family, especially the photographers, have pitched in to help us with the fundraiser. I’m really looking forward to meeting you in September. Love, hugs and prayers for a speedy recovery.

  10. Sherry says

    Larry! I am sure you are aware of the Margarita Blend Off that happens around box number 69 every year! I want to make sure you are a judge for next years’s blend off!!! God’s Speed! We will find you for the Blend Off!!!

  11. Brendan says

    Hope to see you there next year, We’ll be there as always cheering on those amazing pilots and those amazing planes! 

  12. Brendan says

    Hope to see you there next year, We’ll be there as always cheering on those amazing pilots and those amazing planes! 

  13. Rob Riggen says

    Great article! What spirit you have, Larry! Keep going with the healing. I hope to attend Reno next year as well. Best wishes from Vermont!

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