Before I began racing, I was regularly involved inthe SAMs WarbirdRacing eventsas aworker, and was working the race that Skids mentions in detail, and remember the incident quite clearly. As the plane took off, it was obviously out of control once it lifted off. It veered sharply to the left in aloop or snap. As it passed over the pilot stations at the end of the runway, immediately, people started yelling "Heads up!!!", because weallthought it was coming down right then at the end of its first snap. Instead, it made it around andcontinued a repeated looping/snapping set of maneuvers gradually going left (East) and even coming back upwind a little each time, too. It madeit pastthe pilot station, the pits, and to my relief, it appeared to make it away from the immediate vicinity of all the pilots and workers and would go down in the parking lot. Things like this happen REALLYFAST! And for all of a half a second we were all breathing a sigh of relief that it was going to clear all of us, and go down in the empty parking lot. As we all began to calculate where it would impact based on its current trajectory, our eyes went to that spot, and to our horror, we suddenly realized that the parking lot wasn't empty after all! There were a few young kids playing ball right where it looked at though its projectedflightpathwould finallyput itdown. As much as we wanted to pull them to safety or take other action, things were happening within mere seconds from initial lift-off to impact; and, we were all too far away to get there in time,and there was safety netting in the way too. All we could do was yell, and hope for the best. Everyone did their best to get the kids' attention, but . . . as kids that age often are . . . they were totally oblivious to what was going on. Until the plane impacted the ground at full bore just feet away from some of them, that is.
ORIGINAL: Jimmy Skids
OK, I'm not 100% certain on this, but I believe the 4K rule was written in by SAM's and then the waiver approved based upon it. I've been racing since prior to the rule and was witness to more than one wide open two stoke being launched at full song. The planes that I witnessed took off at such a clip that the pilots flew the planes through multiple snaps until said time that the ground induced a snap of it's own on the plane. One of the two snappy craft ended up going over the flight line, over the pits, over the spectators, and then into the parking area, landing.... scratch that, CRASHING feet away from some kids who were playing. The next season there was an idle rule. Some continue to say it's so that we limit the type of motors being used, but I for one believe that had the pilots taken off from an idle and had the ablility to throttle down and keep running that the planes would not be as un-safe as they ended up being.
If you had witnessed that event, andwere forcedto watchin utter helplessness as we all did when these events (and some other related events) unfolded, trust me,you wouldn't even question why the safety measuresSAMhas put in place are there!
Do these measures solve all the problems and eliminate the danger? Of course not. Our hobby is inherently dangerous and participation comes with risk. But, the responsible thing to do is to take steps tominimize the risk as much as isreasonably possible. So, we took those steps:
[*]We moved the pylons to the South tominimize exposureof the Spectator Area.[*]Weshifted the pilot stations to the North so that engine torque would not mean the pilot at Station 1 wasn't constantly getting "buzzed" (no one wants to worry about getting hit, or crashing your own plane because you had to duck for cover . . . as a pilot, you already have enough on your mind, as it is!). I remember one caller would regularly take a chair to that station if he and his pilot were assigned to fly there, so he could pick it up and use it as a shield or giant fly swatter.[*]We instituted a 4000 rpm max. idle rule.[/list]
Did we eliminate some types of engines being used? Yes, BUTONLYTHOSE WITHOUT A REGULATED THROTTLE.
This was not intended to eliminate "certain specific competitors,"as has been claimed by some in the past. If we didn't want competition, we wouldn't advertise the races. Nor would we realign our Wing Area/Engine Chart to better align with the Bay Area series to make it easier formore pilotsto join us.
Why was it set so high? Not because we thought that4000 RPM would bea realistic idle speed for landing (obviously it is not), butbecause we truly made a conscious effort to NOTeliminate ANY engines that could at least meet the minimum safety requirement of having a regulated throttle control. We couldn't see any excuse for not being able to get your engine to at least 4000. It was the feeling of the CDs that I talked to at the time of the decision, that this rule should ensure that everyone should have at least one engine that would qualify, and keep EVERYONE racing, while ensuring some basic safety provisions, that will hopefully keep serious, preventable accidents from occuring, and keep racing around for the foreseeable future.
So Terry, it is WAY past my bedtime,so I hope this explanation is this thorough enough and makeslogical sense. I know conspiracy theories are much more interesting, (and some will choose to believe the worst,no matter how logical the reasoning, or how strong the evidence to refute it) but it all boils down to
. . . simply being responsible. It is as simple as "WEDIDITBECAUSE IT WAS THE 'RIGHT' THING TO DO."
Can we all move on, now (and return this thread back to the Morgan Hill guys)?