I bring this up because in January, I attended an informal hearing in front of Eric Lenz, the operations supervisor from the Oakland Flight Standards District Office of the Federal Aviation Administration, regarding the submitted application for renewal of the aerobatics box waiver at Tracy Municipal Airport, which expired this past December.
During this hearing, I expressed my grave concern about the safety issues related to such activity so close to high-density residential development. I described my education in Physics and explained the classical mechanics governing the motion of aerobatic flight, and the centripetal acceleration and forces akin to those experienced on a roller coaster, though significantly more powerful.
I went on to point out that NASA performs rigorous stress tests on astronauts to determine the effect of high g-forces on the human body, but that no such tests are required for stunt pilots for use of an aerobatics box so close to the lives of so many. There are potential devastating results that could occur if the pilot were to momentarily lose consciousness when coming out of one of these high-speed dives — the point of maximum g-forces on the plane and pilot.
When the pilot exits the box to the north when coming out of one of these dives, which is often the case, if he or she were to momentarily lose control of the aircraft for whatever reason — pilot error, equipment failure or other — there would be no escape path available before being able to recover, and thus the out-of-control aircraft would be directly over several schools, hundreds of homes and thousands of children.
Unimaginable and horrific results would be inescapable.
International Aerobatics Club 38 has submitted a waiver renewal application for the box at the Tracy airport, despite also holding box waivers for the New Jerusalem and Calaveras Airports, which are much more remote and thus far more appropriate locations for such activity.
It was also pointed out to Mr. Lenz that though the box waiver had expired in December, aerobatic stunts were being observed over the Tracy airport in January. Since the FAA is unwilling or incapable of policing the rogue pilots who inappropriately and dangerously perform stunts when the box is not activated by the waiver holder, they should not be granting waivers for such activity so nearby the lives and well-being of thousands of Tracy residents.
I expressed that I had no desire to be party to denying anyone’s ability to pursue their happiness, but that times and circumstances have changed and continued allowance of this potentially extremely dangerous activity so close to the homes and lives of thousands, and thereby the ever-increasing potential of horrendous disaster, would be extraordinarily irresponsible.
• Daniel Wells lives in south Tracy and to the north of the aerobatics box.