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Airshow Accidents on the Rise

August 8, 2013 Aviation Accidents

By: Chris Stevenson, Attorney, Pilot

airshowThe first airshow was held outside of Los Angeles, California in 1910. Aviation pioneers gathered to showcase their airplanes and in turn created a new kind of entertainment. This was the first of three airshows held in the same year. From that point on, airshows have gained popularity worldwide with pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and thrill seekers.

The airshow business has evolved into the ultimate platform to showcase airplanes, pilots, and world-class airmanship. If you’ve never attended an airshow, it’s almost like a county fair. Most airshows have carnival rides, food, and games centered around timed performances by featured aviators, such as the Blue Angels.

Along with having fun, safety is always a primary concern of any airshow event. The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) was founded in 1968 with the following mission: “To provide information to air show sponsors and pilots; to promote safety at all aviation events; and to work with government agencies to develop air show safety and standards.”

Airshow safety protocols include thorough aircraft inspections. The aircraft performance area is also kept away from the crowd to minimize the danger to the audience in the event of an accident. While airshow stunt pilots accept certain known risks when participating, spectators expect to see the show without much consideration or concern for their safety. Unfortunately, airshow spectators are sometimes at risk for injury.

In 2010 alone, 84 people suffered personal injuries or were killed and 35 aircrafts were destroyed. Over the last 10 years, airshows have averaged 24 accidents per year. In 2010, there were 31 accidents.

Airshow Injuries: 2010

  • Spectators injured: 48
  • Spectators killed: 1
  • Pilots injured: 10
  • Pilots killed: 14
  • Crew members either killed or injured: 9
If you’re like me and enjoy aviation, generally, airshows are safe and fun events to attend. You’re more likely to sustain injury on the way to the event than at the airshow itself. Nevertheless, airshows do offer a certain element of risk, especially if adequate safety precautions have not been taken to protect spectators. If you, or someone you know, has been injured at an airshow, it’s best to speak with a personal injury attorney who practices in the area of aviation injury law.

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