Local Air Shows Review Safety Measures

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The air race accident, which occurred in Reno, Nevada on September 16, has some spectators wondering about the safety of the shows. “In 55 years of air shows there has never been a spectator injured or hurt in any way,” said Jerry Conley, a pilot who will be performing at the Wings over Halls Airshow, this weekend. Conley said there are major differences in the rules which govern air shows and air races. “We never point our aircraft or be in close proximity to the crowd, so if something goes wrong the aircraft won’t end up in the crowd,” said Conley. He said the adrenaline rush spectators experience is only perceived. “That’s what makes a good airshow is that they feel tension and build up, yet we practice the danger element away….so it’s perceived,” he added. Organizer of this weekend’s air show, Pat Higdon, said the former air base where the show will be held offers enough space for spectators to get a good view, but keeps them at a safe distance. “That aircraft PS1 that crashed… they had retro fitted it to go much faster than it was ever intended to go. With the age of the airplane, the tail just fell off,” said Higdon, referring to the Nevada accident. Organizers said the air show will be held at the former Dyersburg Army Air Base, Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Admission is $10 and children five and under are free.

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