How safe is spectating at your local airfield?

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10 years 1 month

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Hi, just a quick question about viewing aircraft landing. My local airfield has a public right of way at the end of the runway. I would estimate aircraft pass over this point about 100 feet. How safe is it standing under those landing aircraft? I stand to one side just in case one comes in a bit low. Or is it the case that by the time the aircraft reaches 2-300 feet from the piano keys any failure, engine or otherwise, is not going to affect the landing? All the best, Hampy.
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13 years 11 months

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Off to one side is safer than underneath.

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16 years 2 months

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Hi, just a quick question about viewing aircraft landing. My local airfield has a public right of way at the end of the runway. I would estimate aircraft pass over this point about 100 feet. How safe is it standing under those landing aircraft? I stand to one side just in case one comes in a bit low. Or is it the case that by the time the aircraft reaches 2-300 feet from the piano keys any failure, engine or otherwise, is not going to affect the landing? All the best, Hampy.
Consider yourself fortunate that you can get in a good spot at your local airfield. My local airfield has delusions of grandeur and you can't even get on the airfield unless you are working there /using the pilot shop/flying in or out/bringing or collecting engines or instruments. They have not even got a cafe where you can see the airfield movements. They don't realise how much extra money a decently located cafe would make.

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9 years 10 months

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Hampy With respect, I think when your number is up, it's up mate, no matter where you sit or stand. My local airfield is great, which is why I fly there and photograph. No self-important dayglo bib or security mentality. Many years ago, a light aircraft spun in and came to a terminal stop on the concrete three metres away from a hangar door where some friends often stood watching passing aeroplanes.

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13 years 7 months

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/leicestershire/4139576.stm is the only incident I recall of a spectator at an airfield being killed in the approach area. And he was standing on top of a car directly under the approach. There are several airfields that have public rights of way across the field - Huddersfield and Clacton included IIRC, but I don't recall any incidents. In most cases it's safer than crossing the road.
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There was also G-BCUX a HS125 piloted by John Cunningham that went through the fence at Dunsfold after suffering multiple birdstrikes on take off which than ploughed into a car killing the six occupants. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19751120-1

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There was also G-BCUX a HS125 piloted by John Cunningham that went through the fence at Dunsfold after suffering multiple birdstrikes on take off which than ploughed into a car killing the six occupants. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19751120-1
Hi ZHR, As the car was driving along the A281 road (that passes just east of the runway threshold) at the time, rather than parked up to watch the flying, then I don't think the occupants can be classed as airfield spectators who were watching from an inadvisable/unsafe location. They would be better classified as unfortunate passers-by who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are many other airfields and commercial airports where final approach (or initial takeoff path) passes very low over main roads, or where main roads pass very close the the end of the runway - Farnborough (though the relocation of the threshold has possibly reduced the risk there?), Southampton (M27), East Midlands (M1) to name but three. From memory, in the case of the last two places there have been at least one case at each where an aircraft has ended up on the road, with fatal consequences at EMA. And at Duxford the M11 has seen vehicles hit by air accident debris (P38) IIRC, and an aircraft in trouble has almost reached the carriageway when overrunning the Dx runway(L39). To me these cases show that it is probably unwise to spectate on the extended centreline of a runway around an airport boundary even if you can do so from a public footpath or roadway - or that you to keep your wits about you if you do choose to stand there. Paul F

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Off to one side is safer than underneath.
I agree with you there Scotavia. To be honest the only time I normally stand outside an airfield is at Biggin Hill on airshow arrivals day and then I always stand to one side of the approach this works in both being safer and a better position to take photos from. I would gladly go inside if the option was available. Having sadly seen several accidents at airshows I understand how things can go wrong so quickly probably too quickly to get out of the way of if in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its all about risk and likelyhood of something bad happening in my oppinion, If you chose to view the airfield or airport and something happened to you then you have accepted that risk and any consequences that come with it. However the innocent people in the situation with the car did not accept such risks.
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9 years 8 months

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It's down to personal choice. Airfields are dangerous places - just look into the history of any airfield, and there will probably be many fatalities recorded over the years. I can think of a dozen aircraft (that I know of) at my local airfields which have undershot, ploughed into farmer's fields, beaches and golf courses, or crashed on take-off, so you have to weigh up the risk, and decide for yourself...
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You stand a much greater chance of getting killed by driving to the airport than actually standing watching aircraft at an airport. If you position yourself in front of a moving aeroplane then you really only have yourself to blame, if you get hit. Airports are very safe; people are very dangerous.
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Hi ZHR, As the car was driving along the A281 road (that passes just east of the runway threshold) at the time, rather than parked up to watch the flying, then I don't think the occupants can be classed as airfield spectators who were watching from an inadvisable/unsafe location. They would be better classified as unfortunate passers-by who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. <<< snip >>> To me these cases show that it is probably unwise to spectate on the extended centreline of a runway around an airport boundary even if you can do so from a public footpath or roadway - or that you to keep your wits about you if you do choose to stand there. Paul F
Oh yes, I agree that the Dunsfold incident was definately 'wrong place wrong time' category rather than spectating but I have stood there on the fence on the A281 trying to read the Danish hunters off on the ramps in the old days. I also remember Doug Arnold driving up and down the fence at Blackbushe the day the Dan Air Comet landed trying to chase us all away. As somebody else said up thread, when your number is up your number is up..
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I think Janie has got it spot on!