# The future of Unlimited air racing

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by FranklinRatliff, Sep 21, 2011.

1. Nov 1, 2011

### jlknolla

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The races and racers were all insured, and this is an ugly and unfortunate although not unexpected fallout. The attorney's statement is typical in its' inflammatory and emotional hyperbole - hopefully there will be a honorable jury selected and justice will be done for all parties involved with a minimum of ridiculous enrichment for this ambulance chaser.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Air Races are working behind the scenes with many of those affected by the accident by volunteering their time, treasure and talent - I remain hopeful that this will all work out, and am doing my little part to aid the process where I can and I suggest everyone else who cares to does so as well.

You can give directly to the charity established for victims and survivors at Home | ThinkKindness.org | Helping | Children | Donate.

Anyone interested in volunteering directly to the efforts from the Reno area or for victims around the US can PM me and I will put you in touch with the appropriate folks.

2. Nov 1, 2011

### Toobuilder

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Maybe that is a problem... While the probability of injury is different, in both cases, people willingly place themselves in harms way. The fact that the chances of getting hit by an airplane are slim does not in any way negate the consequences when it does happen. I mean, people will avoid standing in the plane of the propeller arc even if they have never seen or heard of a thrown blade, so why is standing within the reach of a race airplane at Reno any different?

3. Nov 2, 2011

### FranklinRatliff

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People have a legal right to be made whole, in so far as the law and practical realities allow. People get gored in the running of the bulls pretty much every year. Nobody had the least idea of the potential for an Unlimited to go completely out of control and become an unguided missile that would slam into the crowd at 400 mph.

4. Nov 2, 2011

### jlknolla

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NOBODY? Really, you know, for a fact, that nobody, not one single person there, had any idea that there was a potential for a crash? We should change your handle to the Amazing Kreskin - you should offer your services to be an 'expert mind-reading witness' for the persecution, oops I mean prosecution.

In light of your nauseating and misleading recounting of the accidents which have occurred at Reno, I am surprised you would surmise that folks who have been attending Reno, some for decades, who would have seen perhaps a crash or two, could have had no idea, none whatsoever according to you, that there was a potential for a crash that could reach the crowd.

As has been explained previously, 7000 pounds of aircraft going 500 mph can only have risk mitigated, not eliminated, due to having 6 degrees of freedom - the organizers/RARA have gone to great lengths, not only with the Unlimiteds but the other classes as well, to minimize the risk to the maximum extent possible while still keeping it a spectator sport. Still, there have been accidents in front of the crowd (L-39 recently), on the course, and off the course over the last 48 years - racing is hazardous, flying is hazardous, race flying is hazardous - and anyone claiming they don't understand that is lying.

I ask again, what of value are you attempting to bring to the discussion here? The inflammatory/incendiary hyperbole is bad enough coming from the ambulance chaser, what are you trying to contribute here with your 'participation'?

5. Nov 2, 2011

### Toobuilder

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If the airplane crashes through the roof of your house miles off the airport property, then yes.

B.S! This is not like NASCAR or Indy where we have the capability of containment with walls and fences. This is more akin to standing inches away from the course at the Baja 1000 when a unlimited truck comes by at 120+ MPH, then crying about it because you got hit...

It is not up to the courts to reward those that are not smart enough to make an accurate assessment of their risk posture.

6. Nov 2, 2011

### Topaz

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Okay, let's not turn this thread into a battleground again.

Yes, people have a right to press for redress of their losses. Obviously one way to do that is via the civil court system. Equally obvious is the state of litigation today, where sensationalist claims are used to increase the jury award, often directly to the benefit of the law firm representing the plaintiff, rather than for the plaintiff themselves.

Having attended Reno myself, I can say that anyone who doesn't understand the risks wasn't even remotely paying attention. The risks are simply obvious, for one, and well stated in writing practically everywhere, from the papers that come with your tickets, all the way through PA announcements and posted signs near the flightline. Any notion that people don't understand the risks of attending the event is absurd.

And at any rate, there is nothing you can do, anywhere, that is without risk. Reno poses no undue risk to the audience, and the statistics of the event itself support that. The pilots themselves are completely aware of the risks they are taking, and have made the individual choice that the risk is worth it to them. That's their right, and we don't have the right to make that decision for them. I think the families of those injured and lost in that crash have every right to expect reasonable compensation for their medical bills, funerary expenses, lost wages, etc. And that's why the event was insured against just such a possibility. Sensationalist claims designed to increase jury awards are just despicable, IMHO.

What's of interest - and on-topic - in this thread is the future of the sport. Let's return the discussion to that topic, please, and stop the infighting. People are going to disagree. That's fine. Please disagree civilly, and with respect to the opinions of others.

7. Nov 2, 2011

### Autodidact

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This issue is being litigated in the courts. Our laws have some specific things to say about accidents, liability, reasonable expectations, etc. NOTHING WE SAY HERE is going to figure into the outcome of the litigation.

If we argue to the point of making each other angry, it will be for nothing. Please do not do that; it makes no sense. Knowing that our opinions will not in a material way effect the outcome of a legal battle (this is not CNN or FOX), should allow us to differ in opinion without attaching such high stakes to it that we offend one another.

Edit: Oops, Topaz beat me to it!

8. Nov 2, 2011

### bmcj

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Unfortunately, the way the civil liability and tort laws have come to be interpreted, not only will "nothing we say here" make a difference, but anything a victim signs acknowledging risks and releasing all claims of liability will likely not make a difference either.

9. Nov 2, 2011

### jlknolla

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For reference,

A NASCAR Car of Tomorrow (3400 lb), at race speed (180 mph), has 6072 kJ of kinetic energy - this is 6% of the energy GG had (excluding the additional potential energy of her altitude) at the time of the accident (95,062 kJ). GG had more energy than 15 NASCAR racers, at race speed.

A 6800 lb Unlimited Hydroplane (U-6) travelling at its race winning average 157 mph lap speed here in San Diego a couple months ago, has 8728 kJ of kinetic energy, just 9% of the energy GG had. GG had as much energy as the entire 10 boat qualifying field of Unlimited Hydroplanes that raced here in San Diego in September.

A semi-truck with 80,000 lbs of cargo (92,000 gross), travelling at 70 mph on the interestate, has 28,111 kJ of energy, still only 30% of the kinetic energy GG had.

10. Nov 2, 2011

### FranklinRatliff

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After years of tort "reform" in Florida (which consists mostly of stacking the deck in favor of the insurance companies), NOBODY has ever seen their insurance rates go down. Has anybody anywhere in America ever seen their insurance rates go down as a result of tort "reform"?

11. Nov 2, 2011

### Topaz

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Let's get back on-topic, please.

12. Nov 2, 2011

### Titanium Cranium

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I'm looking at this situation from multiple perspectives. I'm a new law student, so I look at the legal side of this. I'm also a motorcycle racer, so I look at the "known risk" aspect of it. I'm also an aviation enthusiast so I look at it as a fan of flying and as a person who loves to go watch planes & pilots push the limits.

From the legal standpoint, the event coordinators & property owners must make reasonable efforts to ensure the safety of the patrons who will attend the event on the property. That is going to be a big item the courts will consider, I'm sure: whether or not the people/organizations who could be held liable, have in fact made reasonable efforts to protect the patrons.

Along with the legal standpoint, I look at my experience with racing, both as a spectator at amateur practice (open track time) days and race events, and of course as a competing rider. I know that as a spectator and as a competitor, I was required to sign a waiver upon entering the property, which stated that I would hold harmless, anyone else involved, for any injury or death that may occur. This is obvious because it is known that the competitors are willingly placing themselves in danger, and the spectators agree that they are also facing the potential that something may happen that could injure or kill them. This is in a sport in which there is virtually no vertical component to bring the riders or vehicles in contact with the spectators. It obviously does happen on occasion when a bike starts to tumble and cart-wheel. So it must be realized and assumed by any air race spectators, that with something that is constantly airborn, there is a greater risk that a competing vehicle may reach them. I would assume that purchasing and redeeming a ticket for the event is a willing entry into a contract that works as a waiver, which surely notifies the spectators of the inherent risk involved with attending the event.

As an aviation enthusiast who is working on a PPL currently, and as a person who naturally loves competition, I look at the aspects involved with the situation from those standpoints. I love airplanes and I love to see unique and vintage airplanes fly. It's incredible to see and I want to continue to see it. As for the competitive side of aviation with air racing, I absolutely love to watch any pilot push him/herself to the limits as well as the aircraft being flown. That's what racers do. We push the limits, sometimes we push beyond the limits. That's just part of racing, no matter what type of racing it is. I've never attended the air races but plan to when time and money allows such an endeavor. It's incredible to see pilots and their teams make changes to their aircraft in order to get just a little bit more speed. They know that those changes involve a certain amount of risk, but they do their best to calculate the risk and remain within the limits. Sometimes, despite their best efforts, the pilots or teams extend themselves or their aircraft beyond the limits and accidents happen just the way we all saw. Is it terrible to see? Of course it is. Is it unfortunate and sad? Anyone who says no is a heartless and sad soul indeed. We (meaning supporters of air racing and aviation in this case) certainly don't want or intend to minimize the suffering endured by those who were injured, killed, or affected by the loss or injury of a loved one or a friend. We simply want to state the fact that those people knew the risks involved when they attended the event, and thus should release others from liability for the losses and suffering that occurred as a result of an accident that, as is acknowledged by all who were there, can happen.

13. Nov 2, 2011

### FranklinRatliff

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The insurance companies are going to do what the insurance companies are going to do, so people need to quit worrying about side issues like "frivolous" lawsuits and focus on practical measures to sustain the long term viability of the sport.

14. Nov 2, 2011

### jlknolla

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From what I understand, the bulk of the logistics efforts related to the races begin in January/February timeframe - so we should have some idea as to the intent for 2012 in about 3 months.

Some of the survivors have come out strongly in favor of the races, and there is the one announced lawsuit, with at least one more known to be winding its' way towards filing. I suspect that some of the lawsuit activity might be positioning, trying to gather as many plaintiffs as possible, and then either push for an out-of-court settlement or possibly consolidation.

RARA has already issued $25K to any victim to aid in immediate costs and logistics, and many race supporters have provided airplane rides and such to aid victims in getting home when released from the hospital. This was clearly done without admitting liability or as a settlement, just an attempt to help offset near term costs for those effected - this is reportedly around$2M so far.

Only one family has engaged the charity established for victims so far. There was also a great auction at the recent Nevada Governor's Banquet - I don't know how much has been raised but it seems to be going well.

I remain hopeful for 2012 but will understand if there is not a clear way forward come early next year.

15. Nov 20, 2011

### jlknolla

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I have it second-hand that RARA has set Sept 12-16 for the 2012 Reno Air Races, a positive development.

16. Nov 21, 2011

### VP1

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Excellent!

I'm going to do everything I can to make my 4th trip to the races this coming Sept. I have a feeling that RARA needs all the support they can get.

17. Apr 15, 2012

### autoreply

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NTSB

And this is the NTSB's own story:
http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2012/120410.html

18. Apr 15, 2012

### delta

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Did I read this right? They're saying some sort of upset caused the trim tab separation and not the other way around... Was it the trim tab hinge or the actuating mechanism that failed and why? I'll bet he had quite a few laps at speed under his belt before the accident occurred and that "practice" was not an issue.
It would seem logical to me that the spectator stands would be on the straight away and not the end of a turn like they have it.

StarJar likes this.
19. Apr 16, 2012

### bruce

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480knots? seems a bit high

20. Apr 16, 2012

### SVSUSteve

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Typo? Maybe they meant 480 mph.