Air shows

Wreckage of the crashed Wright Flyer that killed Charles Rolls, the first air show fatality in 1910.

The latest tragedy to affect an airshow is at the head of a long line of such disasters dating back over a century. The screaming headlines, disturbing footage – replayed endlessly for the delectation of armchair experts and disaster junkies – do nothing to lessen the devastating consequences of such a happening. Reports of disbelief, shock and consequent grief, sadly are all too familiar.

The realities of ‘air shows’ are these:

1. Flying metal bombs – many 0f which have seen better days or were never designed for the antics they are expected to perform at these events – are propelled at great speed by human pilots in far too close proximity to hundreds or thousands of spectators.
2. Events may be held in urban areas close to roads and housing.
3. No foolproof guarantee of aircraft or pilot fitness appears, so far, to have been devised.

Given 1, 2 and 3 why is anyone surprised when it all goes terribly wrong and people die? Why would anyone in their right mind take themselves or their families to stand underneath one of these things? Why aren’t the road users and residents of areas surrounding the events warned of the greatly increased risk of death or injury when an air show is in operation?

At one time, it was considered ‘normal’ for participants and attendees at Grands Prix motor races to risk death for their ‘sport’. Whilst some risks now remain; improvements to safety have massively reduced them and fatalities are now thankfully rare. Does it take much logic to apply the same thinking to air shows? As far as I can tell, the risks are still far too great. I for one will not be going anywhere near one ever.

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