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Though Rob’s flying is thrilling, and may appear to some as dangerous, safety is always paramount in everything that we do at Harrison Airshows. We understand the potential danger to both spectators and to Rob, so we work very hard to incorporate safety into every aspect of our operations.

With regard to safety for the spectators, both the FAA and the International Council of Air Shows specify safety procedures that must be followed. No energy may be directed towards the crowd, no propellers may be turning within 100 feet of the crowd and no aerobatics flown closer than 500 feet to the crowd.

You may have noticed some kind of markers directly under where Rob is flying. These are the “CAT III” line markers, indicating 500 feet from the crowd. If you watch Rob, it may appear that he is flying closer than that or even directly overhead, when he is at higher altitude. This is simply a matter of perspective. The higher the airplane is, the closer horizontally to you it will appear. Rob, like all professional airshow pilots, is extremely careful to observe this 500 feet distance during his act. You may notice him, on occasion, throwing in an extra maneuver, such as a half Cuban eight or a hammer head stall. These extra maneuvers are needed for positioning, especially when there is a cross wind which tends to blow Rob either towards or away from the crowd.
With regard to Rob himself, Harrison Airshows considers the safety aspects of everything we do. You will notice that Rob’s radical tumbles are all done from an upline. This gives considerable extra time to recover should something go wrong during the maneuver. Rob has practiced “pulling the power”, simulating an engine failure, at every point in his routine and has a plan and a set of procedures for recovering and landing safely in the event of such a catastrophe. Rob always wears a parachute, and practices its deployment regularly, along with practicing jettisoning the canopy and getting out of the airplane in the event of, say for instance, a structural failure.

Before each flight Susan runs through a safety checklist with Rob, to make sure that small but important details are not omitted. Rob makes it a point to brief the emergency personnel at each airshow with regard to the potential danger points in his aircraft such as the fuel system, the battery etc., and shows them how to operate the canopy and seatbelt in the event he needs to be extracted.

During the flight, Susan acts not only as Rob’s announcer, but as his “check pilot.”
Being an accomplished aerobatic pilot herself, she is consistently on the radio with Rob.
During the flight, each maneuver has a minimum altitude and airspeed at which it will be entered. If altitude and airspeed are not present at the start of the maneuver, then Rob will break off the flight, climb to gain energy so that the maneuver may be completed successfully. Usually, the crowd won’t even know that there is a break in the routine, as these altitude gaining maneuvers can be incorporated seamlessly in the pre-planned flight program.

You will notice that Rob comes very close to the ground on some maneuvers, but if you look carefully, you will also notice that he establishes his speed and altitude immediately before proceeding with low passes. This way, even in the event of an engine failure, the aircraft has sufficient energy to allow for a safe landing.

As an aerobatic competency evaluator himself, Rob is acutely aware of the safety issues that surround airshow flying. The last thing in the world that anyone wants to see at an airshow is an accident or incident and Harrison Airshows is dedicated to ensuring that one will not occur at your show.

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