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Air Show Mishaps

By Reggie Paulk

Years ago, I attended an air show at the Jefferson County Airport in Colorado, now called the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. A pilot was flying a routine in his newly restored F-86 Sabre jet, the first one I’d ever seen in operation. I was standing in a concession line with my cousin and trying to pay attention as the line grew shorter. As the plane flew by on what would be its last pass, the pilot began to climb and then rolled inverted into a reverse Cuban eight. It was pretty clear to me that he was too low when he began to pull into the bottom of the loop, and I was sure he would roll wings level instead of continuing to dive. He never did, and ended up impacting the ground at a high rate of descent.

F-86
Click the photo to see the video

This next video is of an L-29 near miss during a split S maneuver. It’s probably as close as a pilot can come to disaster without having to pay the consequences:

The reason I highlight these videos this month is to keep people aware that no matter how much experience you have, performing descending maneuvers close to the ground is a very dangerous proposition. There’s always the old adage, “Nothing is more useless than the runway behind you, the air above you, and the fuel you left in the truck.”

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