Lynchburg Air Show Organizers: Safety Is Top Priority - - ABC13

Lynchburg Air Show Organizers: Safety Is Top Priority


Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Jemon Haskins

Lynchburg, VA - Ten people were killed and nearly 70 others injured after a plane plowed into spectators at a Reno, Nevada air race over the weekend.

Four pilots have died in crashes just this year. But there's one very important distinction --- the crash that happened in Reno was at an air race, not an air show, like the one put on in Lynchburg back in May.

Some speculate that pilots in air races take greater risks because they are competing for as much as $1 million in prizes.

They were terrifying final moments in Reno.

"Parts and things were flying through the air," one spectator told reporters.

"It was just like a war zone. There were body parts all over," another spectator said after Friday's air race.

Air Show organizers in Lynchburg call the fiery crash a wake-up call.

"The takeaway message is to be as safe as you can, and we work hard at that," said Jones Stanley, president of Lynchburg's Regional Air Show Corporation.

He says unlike air races, pilots know not to test their limits.

"The F-18 airplanes that the Blue Angels fly are capable of going the speed of sound. They'd be capable of breaking half the windows across Wards Road if they pushed it to that speed," said Stanley.

Show performers are required to go through extensive health checks, an aerobatic box must be cleared around the performance area, and the crowd must stay 1,500 feet away from the show line.

"If somebody gets killed out here on 460 you can say, 'Gosh that's never gonna happen to me so I'm not gonna get on 460 ever again.' People have to have a life and you have to accept that as life itself," saud Stanley.

It could be six to nine months before we know for sure whether mechanical failure, human error or a possible medical condition is to blame for the Reno crash.

It's a tragedy that's going down in history. Organizers of the Reno show say it is the first time in 40 years a spectator was injured or killed in an air race.

A Blue Angels pilot resigned after admittedly performing a dangerous maneuver at Lynchburg's Air Show back in May. Stanley says the crowd was never in danger because the safety observer acted quickly and ordered the jets to land.

But these crashes haven't deterred them from going forward with air shows in our area. Stanley says they've applied to have the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels perform in Lynchburg in 2013.

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