Air Showitis
By: Bob Violett

October 2009

A potentially dangerous affliction.

Definition: You feel that you must out perform the pilot and plane that proceeded you so that you receive more applause and adulation from the spectators.  Therefore, you push the model past previously tested speeds and "G" forces in unpracticed maneuvers.

Discussion:  Some famous pilots are often as guilty as those who want to become famous.  The spectators that you are trying to impress have no idea that they are being exposed to a possible disaster.  They are ignorant of the absolute limits of the machine and what could happen if a structural or electrical failure occurs.  They brought their kids to be entertained, not unknowingly threatened.

Disaster happens occasionally in full scale airshows even though pilot proficiency and airframe integrity are closely regulated.  During the past several years, I have seen multiple near disasters involving Jet Model Airplanes that suffered at the hands of pilots afflicted with "Air Showitis". So far, we have been fortunate.  Common sense and responsibility should dictate that a show pilot practice his routine in the absence of spectators.  Equipping the model with Telemetry devices will give the pilot real information about the model and its limitations.

With this knowledge, he can perform responsibly within the known limits and not pose a risk to innocent bystanders.  After all, spectators can't recognize a 10-20 mph increase or an extra 2 G's, yet just those extras could be the infamous "straw".

We have been lucky so far, but it would be folly to keep depending on just luck.  If professionalism is practiced, it will be recognized and appreciated.

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