74-Year-Old Shouldn't Be Flying a 'Hot Rod'

Air shows like Reno's put spectators at risk: Clive Irving
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2011 9:34 AM CDT
Jimmy Leeward holds a scale model of his P-51 Mustang in 2010. He was flying the plane that crashed in Reno.   (AP Photo/Doug Engle - Star-Banner)
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(Newser) – Witnesses may be praising the Reno pilot killed in yesterday's air show crash, but aviation blogger Clive Irving has one key question: "What was a 74-year-old pilot doing in a souped-up World War II fighter flying in an air race?" he asks at the Daily Beast. The deadly accident is a "ghastly reminder that the normal rules of public safety are suspended when air shows are involved."

Sure, organizers pay lip service to safety protocols for spectators, but the speeds these planes are flying—upward of 400mph—along with "sheer physics" make the idea laughable, writes Irving. These kinds of events are all about speed, as opposed to, say, shows by the Blue Angels, which are more about precision. And remember those Blue Angels planes are flown by young, skilled military pilots. "It beggars belief" that "old men" are allowed to fly "hot rods barely 100 feet above thousands of people," writes Irving. Click for the full column. (Read more Reno, Nevada stories.)

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