Who Should be Able to Fly Airshows?

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
The recent crash involving an L-39 at an airshow in Iowa got me thinking - what experience should be required to fly a fighter in formation at a public event such as this? Now I know the default JC response is that everyone should be able to fly anything anywhere at anytime with any training and with an aircraft in any condition - but I'm hoping some of you who fly military fighters could chime in.

This is absolutely not to infer that this pilot's experience had anything to do with the accident, but the accident pilot in Iowa was a civilian with 2,000 total hours, and about 600 in jets. This is probably comparable to many military pilots who fly airshow exhibitions, but obviously they're cut from a different cloth.

It seems that older trainer fighters are popular among wealthy business types - and of course aviation has a storied history of smoking holes with the remains of confident business execs in airplanes they couldn't handle. All fine and well, but one has to wonder about the safety of such at a populated event such as an airshow.

Just throwing it out there - if folks think that 700 hours jet time is too little to fly passengers, I wonder what they think about turbine airshow performers.
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
Great post. I think there does need to be a harder look at experience of those flying in these airshows. I was jumpseating and the FO who was for former military was going over the L-39 manual at the gate waiting for the plane to come in. I asked what he was doing and if he flew in airshows? His response was "I'm there to provide the adult supervision to the millionaires who do the flying."

I'd take it a step farther. Look at the Reno Air Show crash. Was it REALLY important to make all those mods to those types of airplanes, but untested aerodynamic forces and strains on the aircraft, to be in an "unlimited" racing field?

Waste of money, waste of an airplane, and ultimately it cost many lives when it didn't need to.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
There's no indication that experience or training had anything to do with this crash.

As for Reno, the whole point of unlimited racing is to push aircraft and pilot to their limits... sometimes both break... nature of the sport.

That all said, I believe many (if not all) airshow formations do require formation training and experience, for example EAA: To fly in formation, we also require pilots to be formation qualified through the FAST program or the Joint Liaison Formation program. Note that not all aircraft types will fly formation.
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
I'd take it a step farther. Look at the Reno Air Show crash. Was it REALLY important to make all those mods to those types of airplanes, but untested aerodynamic forces and strains on the aircraft, to be in an "unlimited" racing field?

Waste of money, waste of an airplane, and ultimately it cost many lives when it didn't need to.
More testing is probably going to happen in the future, but no air show or race is REALLY necessary. There will always be some unnecessary risk assumed. Military aircraft have accidents and mishaps too.
 

Inverted

#inspirationing
I dont know much a bout the crash yet as it is early. There is no initial indication of pilot error, yet...
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
Also, Allen Smith held an ACE level 1 card (authorized to 0' AGL) for low level aerobatics in the L39.... I think he was sufficiently trained and qualified.

Hang on, I mixed up my Smiths perhaps... the IA crash was Glenn Smith, the guy I was thinking of is Allen Smith
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
rframe said:
As for Reno, the whole point of unlimited racing is to push aircraft and pilot to their limits... sometimes both break... nature of the sport.
It is going to make getting insurance for these events harder and harder the more pushing is done.
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
drunkenbeagle said:
More testing is probably going to happen in the future, but no air show or race is REALLY necessary. There will always be some unnecessary risk assumed. Military aircraft have accidents and mishaps too.
True.

The thing is insurance policies for these air shows are going to be the driving force. It's going to be harder and harder to insure. The ONLY reason Reno is happening again this year is private sponsors are paying the insurance premium. Also airports aren't going to want to open themselves up to the liability, especially those owned by cities.
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
rframe said:
Also, Allen Smith held an ACE level 1 card (authorized to 0' AGL) for low level aerobatics in the L39.... I think he was sufficiently trained and qualified.
Which means what for those like me that don't know.
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
There's no indication that experience or training had anything to do with this crash.

As for Reno, the whole point of unlimited racing is to push aircraft and pilot to their limits... sometimes both break... nature of the sport.

That all said, I believe many (if not all) airshow formations do require formation training and experience, for example EAA: To fly in formation, we also require pilots to be formation qualified through the FAST program or the Joint Liaison Formation program. Note that not all aircraft types will fly formation.
I didn't say it had anything to do with it, or anything like that. There isn't much evidence of anything. Just used the guys' experience as an example to throw the question out there.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
I didn't say it had anything to do with it, or anything like that. There isn't much evidence of anything. Just used the guys' experience as an example to throw the question out there.
Fair enough, to answer the question: I think anybody holding a commercial certificate and who has demonstrated formation flying proficiency and/or who holds an ACE card should be allowed to perform in air shows, either for formation fly by or for aerobatic demonstrations, respectively.
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
Fair enough, to answer the question: I think anybody holding a commercial certificate and who has demonstrated formation flying proficiency and/or who holds an ACE card should be allowed to perform in air shows, either for formation fly by or for aerobatic demonstrations, respectively.
Would a basic medical certificate be enough to for high G maneuvers and the like? Seems that if one of the Blues can g-lock in a turn that any of us could.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
Would a basic medical certificate be enough to for high G maneuvers and the like? Seems that if one of the Blues can g-lock in a turn that any of us could.
Yes, I think it's sufficient. Formation fly-by isn't aerobatic, so loading isn't going to normally exceed 3G.

Normal aviation medical exams (1-3) do nothing to test for G-sensitivity. As for higher G aerobatics, medical testing isn't going to accomplish much. Throwing someone in a centrifuge until they pass out like the military does isn't going to accomplish much, the aerobatic performers go through rapid changes in positive and negative G's.... not a sustained pull from the merge like a fighter pilot. By the time someone has the experience and skill to become airshow qualified for aerobatics they will have plenty of experience in the types of maneuvers they are performing and know how to handle/mitigate those forces.
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
What about the mechanical training and condition of these aircraft? Where is the oversight on that and the training of the mechanics?
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
Umm.....
Parts 91, 65, and 43, and the manufacturers maintenance manuals?
I should have been clearer. Before going around flying circles around tens of thousands of people, the questions we should be asking is if the standards the mechanics use to fix and repair these older aircraft, where parts may be hard to come by, and training to fix these systems are suffice? Or should it go more in depth?
 
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