Miramar Air Show planes "don't drop food, they drop bombs"

Are 10 percent of flyers killed?

Anti-air show banners hung along I-15 northbound on Thursday, August 18
  • Anti-air show banners hung along I-15 northbound on Thursday, August 18

A group of anti-war activists led by San Diego Veterans for Peace spent Thursday afternoon (August 18) hanging banners above I-15 at Carrol Canyon Road protesting the Miramar Air Show, scheduled to take place next month.

Veterans for Peace organizer Dave Patterson emphasized his group's view that events like the air show mask more nefarious purposes behind their fun-and-games pretense.

"We want people to understand that the Miramar Air Show isn't about patriotism or fun and games, it's about selling people the idea of war," Patterson said. "The more we use our weapons, the more defense suppliers sell. And the more that war as an idea is promoted, the more people join up. So we want people to think about what's really going on there."

He admits, however, that though he opposes the show, it retains an appeal for many.

"I attended events like this when I was a kid and had great fun. It's all exciting, but so was the 'shock and awe' bombing campaign over

Baghdad," Patterson continued. "These planes don't drop food, they drop bombs."

"They've got the Blue Angels flying _ those stunts are very dangerous. More than ten percent of the people who've flown them have been killed in accidents at air shows."

Kate Beckwith, another activist, was appalled by both the risk to servicemembers and the cost of putting on the annual display, one of

dozens nationwide.

"Why would you put your best pilots in a position like that? What good does it do?" asked Beckwith.

"I've heard the jets in the show cost $35,000 an hour just to fly. To use that kind of money to glorify war is absurd, especially when we're spending something like 60 cents out of every tax dollar on defense in some way, more than the rest of the world combined."

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Those spectacular stunts performed by the Blue Angels have to be highly hazardous. Maybe that's why the group loses a plane and pilot every few years. About 1980, while at work on the south border of Miramar, I recall hearing the explosion of one of the Blue Angel jets as it hit the runway with a wing, crashed and exploded. Didn't they just lose another one in the past few months? Their Air Force counterpart group, the Thunderbirds, has had many crashes over the years too. Whether those add up to a 10% casualty rate is hard to say. Maybe Patterson could back that up with some attribution. That sounds awfully high to me. But, indeed, what is the purpose?

That cost of $35K an hour sounds likely, if a bit low. But let's keep some of this accurate. Today, there is no way that ". . . we're spending something like 60 cents out of every tax dollar on defense in some way . . ." That sort of thing may have been true 60 years ago, but the share of the federal budget spent on defense is now down around 5%. That's not to say it is an inconsiderable amount; it is a huge amount. And compared to the rest of the world, it is very high. Part of that is the cost of being the world's sole remaining superpower, and wanting to maintain stability (aka, peace) all round the world,

Visduh - I did make at least a quick attempt to back up the claims made by Patterson and Beckwith. Per Wikipedia (not a perfect source, I'm aware):


During its history, 27 Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents.[42] Through the 2006 season there have been 262 pilots in the squadron's history,[43] giving the job a 10% fatality rate.

The link contains a detailed list of the accidents associated with the show, and while you're right that the most recent death occurred just a couple months ago, the overall frequency of fatalities seems to be lower in recent decades than in the '60s and '70s.

Wow, that does indicate a 10% fatality rate. In the 50's, during the Cold War, Navy carrier pilots were suffering a high death rate even though nobody was shooting them down. The whole picture of the carriers of the time, the early carrier jets, and the intensity of the training meant that there were many, many accidents. All of the services have brought their aircraft crash rates way down over the years, a good thing because of the huge cost of an aircraft now. And many lives have been saved in the process.

There's no reason to put all those spectators at risk on the ground either.

US air shows require that all "stunts" are done parallel to the spectators and not toward the spectators. There is still a risk to spectators but not much. In Europe they have many more spectator involved crashes as the planes can preform while flying toward the spectators.

One is much more likely to get injured driving to/from an air show, than while sitting at one of them! And you're probably more likely to get killed in a tornado/flood/hurricane/wildfire than at an air show.

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