The recent accident at the Reno Air Races has led a lot of commentators in the news media to question the safety of air racing. A lot of the comments I have read, seen and heard have to do with the age of the aircraft involved, as though that had something to do with the accident.
I think most people would be surprised if they knew how many hours were on the airframe of an airliner when they climbed aboard. Many of these aircraft have well over 60,000 hours of flying time, and when you consider that modern aircraft are pressurized which flexes the airframe all the time no one seems to worry about that.
As any pilot will tell you a well maintained aircraft is every bit as solid and safe as a brand new aircraft. The truth is that flying airplanes is a dangerous endeavor regardless of aircraft age or condition. Case in point: the Air France AirBus accident departing Brazil.
I would first question whether air racing is more or less dangerous than Forumla 1, NASCAR or any other racing sport. In fact, when you consider accidents like the recent stage collapse in Indiana, the truth is accidents happen all of the time.
Do we want to ban everything? Does anyone really believe we can make everything in life safe? I don’t think so.
The Benefits Of Air Racing
In point of fact air racing has contributed much to the safety of modern aircraft, and has resulted in advancing aviation technology from the very beginnings of aircraft design and engineering. And it continues to do so today!
In the early days of aviation trophies were offered to encourage technological advance in aircraft design and performance resulting in the rapid advancement of both civilian and military aircraft. Among those trophies were these:
- The Bendix Air Race Trophy;
- The Thompson Trophy;
- The Collier Trophy;
- The Harmon Trophy;
- The Pulitzer Trophy.
In addition, many of our most famous pilots and aircraft designers came from this competition. Some of them were:
Without these pioneers in aviation modern air transportation as we know it today would not exist, and our ability to apply air power around the world to protect our country would be impossible.
Let’s Not Ban Air Racing!
Air racing continues to help develop advances in airframe, engine and avionics technology, as well as to interest and encourage more individuals to take up flying airplanes as either a hobby or a profession.
While most everything in life has some danger associated with it, it is not possible to eliminate all danger for everyone everywhere, and it is foolish to imagine we could.
Everyone should understand the dangerous in air racing, accept them and enjoy the sport.
What do you think?
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “All Things Aviation” here!