A bad day at Dayton and Oshkosk airshows

Pilot dies after hitting runway in Dayton; another dies in Oshkosh collision.

Another pilot died in Switzerland on Monday as he was trying to set a speed record to Oshkosh.

Some time back I did a thread about Oshkosh seemingly being the most dangerous flying destination in the world. Every year it seems there are a half dozen crashes and a similar number of deaths of people going to or flying at the airshow. Ok, to be precise, some of the crashes are people leaving Oshkosh after the show. It seems there are a lot of folks pushing to and through the limits of their planes and their skills to get to it.

Johnny, do you know of any relatively comprehensive air crash database? It’d be real interesting to see how many crashes there were in the last ten years or so.

Oh yeah, and there was another forced landing on highway 41 a few days ago by someone on the way there. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Here is the NTSB Aviation Accident & Synopsis Query page. I looked up all Cessna 172 crashes in 1976 and it returned 30 (six fatal). Not a great deal of information:


NTSB Identification: LAX77DUG15
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation 
Event occurred Friday, December 10, 1976 in RIVERSIDE, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N84343
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3-3427  76/12/10   RIVERSIDE,CA        CESSNA 172          CR-  0  0  1  NONCOMMERCIAL             PRIVATE, AGE 30, 578
        TIME - 1300                    N84343              PX-  0  0  0  PLEASURE/PERSONAL TRANSP  TOTAL HOURS, ALL IN TYPE,
                                       DAMAGE-SUBSTANTIAL  OT-  0  0  0                            INSTRUMENT RATED.
        NAME OF AIRPORT - RIVERSIDE
        DEPARTURE POINT             INTENDED DESTINATION
          SANTA MONICA,CA             RIVERSIDE,CA
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           NOSE OVER/DOWN                                           LANDING: ROLL
        PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
           PILOT IN COMMAND - EXERCISED POOR JUDGMENT
           WEATHER - UNFAVORABLE WIND CONDITIONS
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - DISREGARD OF GOOD OPERATING PRACTICE
        WEATHER BRIEFING - NO RECORD OF BRIEFING RECEIVED
        WEATHER FORECAST - UNKNOWN/NOT REPORTED
        SKY CONDITION                                            CEILING AT ACCIDENT SITE
          CLEAR                                                    UNLIMITED
        VISIBILITY AT ACCIDENT SITE                              PRECIPITATION AT ACCIDENT SITE
          5 OR OVER(UNLIMITED)                                     NONE
        OBSTRUCTIONS TO VISION AT ACCIDENT SITE                  RELATIVE BEARING OF WIND
          NONE                                                     RIGHT QUARTERING HEAD WIND 023-067 DEGREES
        TEMPERATURE-F                                            WIND DIRECTION-DEGREES
           65                                                      360
        WIND VELOCITY-KNOTS                                      TYPE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS
           25                                                      VFR
        TYPE OF FLIGHT PLAN
          NONE
        REMARKS- LNDD IN SANDSTORM. WIND GUSTING TO 45KTS.

This page has Major Investigations. For example:

I’m suddenly glad that my dad always drives to Oshkosh.

When will it occur to airshow spectators that they are essentially sponsoring someone’s death? It happens practically every time.

In the very least, they’re gambling that they won’t walk away with someone’s blood on their hands.

I don’t understand it at all. At all.

No, it doesn’t. Yes, there are crashes. But not ‘every time’. Not even most of the time or much of the time.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds…and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of…wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space…
…put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I dunno, just about every year there is an Oskosh related crash. Of course, get 10,000+ planes together in one place and statistically something is likely to happen.

The definition of “Oshkosh Related” is pretty vague though – news media includes planes flying into FLD and ATW and sometimes planes who are eventually heading to EAA but crash in Montana or Kentucky.

Brian

Thanks, Johnnie, the database is interesting. Searching for accidents since 2000, putting in “Oshkosh” gets 20 hits, “Chicago” gets 33. I’m gonna play with this and see if I can search for “Intended Destination” OR “Departure Point” = “Oshkosh”.

People here in WI are like. closer to the hub where all the flight lines converge, and sometimes it seems like it’s raining planes around show time.

Hmmm. The “Aids” database has Wittman field in Oshkosh, but not Ohare in Chicago. Very strange, no ORD either.

I took KLG’s post to mean airshows in general, not Oshkosh specifically.

I couldn’t say how many airshows I’ve attended in my life. But I can say how many crashes there have been at the ones I’ve attended: Two; one fatal (this F-86) and one non-fatal (this F/A-18 --first angle shot from about where I was standing).

My point was that while crashes can and do occur, they are not especially frequent. And I don’t believe people go to airshows to see crashes. (Not that it was said.) People go to airshows to experience the beauty of flight, the demonstration of precision, the history, and so on.

Fatalities at airshows are rare. There are hundreds of airshows a year, and entire years can go by without a single fatality.

In any event, paying to watch people do something with an element of risk is not ‘sponsoring their death’. Are NASCAR viewers sponsoring the deaths of NASCAR drivers? Nor do spectators of risk-taking sports have blood on their hands if someone is killed. No one put a gun to anyone’s head anywhere in the process.

Some things are worth doing AND supporting, even if they involve a serious element of risk. I’m getting awfully tired of this risk-averse culture we are living in, and the tut-tutting that we get from moral scolds every time someone dies or is injured doing something they love if we are watching them do it.

Life would be pretty damned boring if we didn’t engage in risky activities, celebrate risky activities, and pay to watch risky activities. Life is more than just counting the hours until you die of old age.

Counting! Hmm… that should make the time pass a little faster.

Yes, but a lot of the OSH crashes are NOT airshow related. I agree that airshow crashes aren’t common. However, 99% of the planes at Oshkosh aren’t in the airshow (at least the aerobatic portion). The 2 P-51s that collided this year may have been part of the of the warplane flyover.

Brian

Geez, I’ve just noticed I misspelled Oshkosh in the title. :smack:

I’m going to step on the soapbox here.

Background first: I’m a flight instructor, aerobatic pilot (not anywhere close to airshow caliber), and a lover of flight. I have several friends who are airshow performers, and been trained by a couple.

While it’s true that there are relatively few airshow fatalities, I am of the opinion that many of the few that occur aren’t necessary. The reason: low altitude flying is too dangerous, and isn’t necessary.

Normal aerobatics may not be executed below 1500’ above ground level (AGL). However, airshow performers earn waivers to fly below this limit. I believe they start them at 500’, then if they do well they go down to 250’ the following season. After that they are waivered all the way down to ground level.

Why?

I’ve been to airshows where first-time performers worked at 500’. You could see them perform with no problem - often better than the guys at ground level because they’re not blocked by buildings or the audience. So I must conclude that going down on the deck serves only to increase the apparent and actual danger of the performance for the benefit of the audience.

One airshow guy I know says that many of the recent fatalities are the result of performers trying to go lower than the last guy. And I don’t think it can be reasonably debated that the lower you are, the more dangerous it is. Jim LeRoy yesterday appeared to need an extra few hundred feet to pull out of his last maneuver. Had he been working at 500 or 250’ AGL he might still be alive.

Personally, I have no interest in seeing people in imminent danger. I love to see skillful flying, and would prefer seeing it somewhat higher if that meant the performers were more likely to live through it.

Aerobatic flying carries risks. Fine. But why magnify those risks? I don’t get it. I wish Jim LeRoy, Jim Franklin, Bobby Younkin and a number of other people were still alive.

It sounds like those real low flyers aren’t acrobatic pilots anymore, but they have become daredevil pilots, performing death defying stunts.