Organizers At Salinas Air Show Say Safety Is Top Priority

SALINAS (KCBS) — The death toll from Friday’s crash at the Reno Air Races has reached 10 people. As of Monday, four remain hospitalized in critical condition.

The crash is on the minds of those who organize other aviation events. Harry Wardwell, the executive director of the California international Air Show at Salinas, which is occurring this weekend, called air races and air shows different.

“We understand there is a comparison because they are both airplanes and it is a spectator event,” he said. “But there is a difference and we have a safety record that shows that.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees air races and shows with strict regulations for air shows that include the prohibition on flying over or toward spectators.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

“They fly parallel to the crowd,” Wardell said. “So if there ever is an incident, it creashes way out away from the spectators.”

Wardell said pilots are also required to have yearly competency tests, and planes are inspected before each show. Because of that, he added, there hasn’t been a spectator death at an air show since 1952.

The three-day Salinas air show will go on as is scheduled for this weekend. The event has raised more than $7 million for charities over the past 30 years.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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