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What a Way to Fly

September 25, 1988

Congratulations on your story about air show crashes ("Toll of U.S. Air Shows: 100 Lives and $1 Billion," Sept. 4)

It is high time the public's attention be directed toward this subject. It seems to me that the cost in lives and dollars, and in the image of aviation, has been excessive for what we have received in return. Yet the general attitude persists that shows to please the public and give them "thrills" are justified.

I am very fond of airplanes. I have been flying them all of my life. I still pause and look up when I hear one go over, because I like to look at them. But I am a serious and conservative pilot.

When a customer is about to buy something, he is entitled to a demonstration. But when you visit a dealer to test drive a new car, do you take it to the drag strip to check the acceleration from 0 to 60? Do you look forward to the salesman taking it out on the crowded freeway and driving in formation with other models, rear view mirror to rear view mirror at a hundred miles an hour to show its "roadability?" Why do we tolerate that sort of stuff when people are selling airplanes?

Military airplanes and airliners are sold by the manufacturers to the military and to the airlines, and at the same time they are sold to the public because it is the public that eventually pays for the equipment. But they should be demonstrated in the operations they were designed to do and not with the circus stunts like those on the program at the demolition derby or the stock car races.

BYRON S. CRAMBLET

Major, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Captain, American Airlines (Ret.)

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