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Point Mugu Air Show Not Planning to Make Changes

September 01, 1988|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

The aerobatic accident Sunday that killed 49 people at a U.S. military base in West Germany will not affect the Point Mugu Air Show, said officials at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Test Center.

The two-day show, one of the biggest annual events in Ventura County, is expected to attract 200,000 spectators Oct. 8 and 9.

"We have no plans to change our operation," spokeswoman Eve Miller said. "What we show here are normal flight maneuvers that are mastered by every naval aviator."

'Extremely Unusual'

She said the stunt performed by a 10-plane Italian military flying team at the U.S. air base in Ramstein appeared "extremely unusual" and is not part of the Point Mugu show.

Nine of the Italian fliers split into two teams, each doing a large loop, and then flew toward each other to pass head-on, low over the main runway. Meanwhile, the 10th plane, piloted by the team leader, made a separate loop and was to streak through the two squads of passing planes.

It appeared that the pilot of the 10th plane misjudged his position, causing him to slam into two other jets and shower the spectators with flaming debris. The official death toll from the accident had reached 49 by Wednesday and left hundreds injured.

36 Inches Apart

A spokesman for the Blue Angels, the Navy's top precision fliers, said they often fly as close together as 36 inches at speeds approaching 400 m.p.h.

But the maneuvers, while dramatic, are part of the basic tactical training completed by all Navy aviators.

"Nothing we fly is considered a stunt," Blue Angel spokesman Jeff Wood said.

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