Airshow Disaster

Some think that part of what draws spectators to certain events is the possibility of witnessing something truly horrific, like a bunch of race cars getting tangled up at 200-plus mph or an airplane running out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time during an aerobatic routine at an airshow.

Most people aren’t aware of the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration regulates a large variety of craft. One way to look at it is that if it goes “up there,” the FAA wants some control over how it’s constructed, maintained, and operated, and to make certain that anyone who participates in any of those functions is adequately trained and licensed.

It takes no stretch of logic to understand the importance of close supervision in regard to airliners, jet fighters, helicopters, corporate jets, and light aircraft. You may not have thought about it much, but the crews of those airships providing the overhead shots of sporting events are also licensed by the FAA and trained according to regulations. And yes, the same holds true for hot-air balloon pilots.

I doubt any of us, pilot or not, can imagine spectators at a hot-air balloon race or airshow waiting eagerly for some kind of hair-raising excitement. Well, we’d all be wrong. The amazing photo below shows a tragedy in terrifying detail. The pilot, at low level, has lost control of his aircraft. It narrowly misses a crowd gathered for the airshow and slams into four buildings. One can only imagine the horror of the occupants inside.

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