Wings Over Houston organizers promise safe event

September 18, 2011 8:33:34 PM PDT
Houston's air show is next month and organizers of that event are reacting to the tragedy in Nevada.

The Wings Over Houston Airshow is set to take place October 15-16 at Ellington Field.

Organizers say Wings Over Houston will be a non-competitive aviation display -- different from the air races held in Reno.

In a statement Sunday, Executive Director Bill Roach told us, "Championship air races at Reno, Nevada are a fundamentally different kind of event than our air show."

"The reason there hasn't been a spectator fatality at a North American air show in nearly 60 years is because of the stringent rules that air show performers are compelled to follow," he said.

Roach's full statement to ABC13 follows:

First and most importantly, our thoughts are with our friends in the air race community, their families and fans who were involved in or affected by this tragic accident in Reno. Even as of now, they are working to understand the causes of this accident.

Although it was an aviation event, the National Championship Air Races at Reno, Nevada are a fundamentally different kind of event than our air show. The races are governed by a completely different set of rules that focus on the competitive racing nature of the event with highly modified aircraft. Our show is strictly a non-competitive aviation display ? The reason there hasn't been a spectator fatality at a North American air show in nearly 60 years is because of the stringent rules that air show performers are compelled to follow.

ABOUT AIR SHOW REGULATIONS: In close cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the air show industry abides by a strict set of rules and guidelines specifically designed to ensure the safety of air show spectators. Performing aircraft are not permitted to direct the energy of their aircraft towards the crowds while performing aerobatics. Performing aircraft must maintain minimum separation distances (500 feet, 1,000 feet or 1,500 feet, depending on the aircraft) from spectators. Every aerobatic performer at a North American air show is evaluated at least once per year to ensure he or she is competent to fly air show aerobatics. And air shows are conducted entirely within an aerobatic box, an imaginary cube that must be removed of all people on the ground and in the air while the pilot performs. In the 59 years since this program was implemented, there has not been a single spectator fatality at a North American air show.