(Reno, NV, KXNT, (AP) — Organizers of the Reno National Championship Air Races say they must raise pledges of $500,000 by Dec. 15 in order to meet operational costs in 2014 and keep the one-of-a-kind event alive.

They say they’ve had to cut their staff from seven to five employees and impose wage and benefit cuts on remaining workers because of financial struggles since a plane crash at the 2011 event killed the pilot and 10 spectators.

Air race president and CEO Michael Houghton, in a statement, says immediate financial assistance is needed in order to put on the 51st annual event in September.

Insurance alone to cover the air races was over $2 million in 2012 and $1.2 million in 2013.

Air races spokesman Mike Draper told the Reno Gazette-Journal “some painful decisions” could be made if the $500,000 can’t be raised by Dec. 15 and they include canceling next year’s event.

But he says organizers are “extremely optimistic and confident” that they’ll be able to reach the goal.


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