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. . . saw the death of Charlie Hillard, known as one of the world's best pilots. Hillard finished his performance, landed his World War II-era Hawker Sea Fury, and taxied down the runway at a mere 35 to 40 miles per hour. Then his plane veered to the right and flipped over. Hillard, seated in a bubble cockpit without roll bars, was crushed beneath the 10,000-pound plane. Four would-be spectators died in two crashes while flying in to watch the show. One of the planes came down in a neighborhood of Kissimmee.Plys's message was that the Chicago air show is living on borrowed time.
Carroll doesn't believe ejection increases the hazard because he doesn't think a pilot can control a crashing jet anyway. "When you get into an ejection situation, frequently it occurs in a way that means the pilot has totally lost control of the plane. There's no such thing as trying to steer it anyplace. His only option is to save himself," he says. "In the jet domain, the plane can rapidly become totally uncontrollable if there's been a midair collision, explosion in an engine, flight control fails. And these people are pulling a large number of G forces, so I don't think you can say that the pilot is going to have much of a chance to stay with the plane and increase safety that way. And thereby turn the coin over—he doesn't decrease safety by ejecting."The question then—the one I wrestle with annually after waking up from my nightmare—is whether the Chicago air show ought to be eliminated as utter idiocy before the worst happens. On the one hand, of course it should. But on the other, there's something endearing about the human proclivity for letting the worst happen just so long we don't let it happen again. The first time, we'll blame God, we tell ourselves; the second time we'd have to blame ourselves.