Kinda Like Watching Paint Dry, The Average GA Arrival Should Be
A LOT More Exciting Than UARC's 'Performance' at KCMA
OK... I've said it before and I pray that I don't have to say it
again... but this story could NOT get more bizarre. In a last ditch
attempt to fly 'something... anything...' in order for the
Camarillo Airshow to preserve the appearance of the act once
espoused by the so-called Unlimited Air Race Challenge, the FAA has
agreed to let the 'team' fly an exceedingly simple program at this
UARC's 'Performances' Will Be Greatly
How simple? How about a few passes well away from the
spectators, straight and level, with no aerobatics
and no aggressive maneuvering... kinda like the
flying everyone will see from any private (or even student) pilot
flying into the airport to watch the event.
As previously noted...
- An aggressive racing program once described as "Mixed Martial
Arts In The Air" was claimed to have been approved by the FAA long
ago -- it never was.
- It was supposed to have been crewed by seven of the best pilots
in the world -- it isn't and they aren't.
- The team was said to have trained and practiced for months on
end and qualified to rigorous standards -- well, they
- And when the FAA publicly denied any approvals for the team,
they ignored reality and told media representatives, far and wide,
that the race was on, gave television and newspaper interviews to
that effect and made dozens of claims with little basis in reality.
- And finally, the airshow organization and the airport authority
for Camarillo Airport's airshow was warned multiple times by a
great number of persons of the many hazards, falsehoods and
concerns inherent in the wild claims of the UARC program.
Regardless, they promoted the organization despite knowing full
well that the site, team, aircraft, pilots and racing program not
was not approved by the FAA... but had been turned down in
no uncertain terms...
- And, as of this moment, Wings Over Camarillo and the UARC
organization (via their web sites and marketing) continue to claim
that they will have an air race this weekend... But, NO,
- In the meantime; the FAA has made it clear that there
will be no such thing.
BUT... there will be a limited formation flight, followed by
individual non-formation flights by the UARC 'pilots' that will
fulfill a fraction (1/100th???) of the many promises made and
seemingly broken by the organizers and staff of this unapproved,
disorganized, and blatantly deceptive air racing fiasco.
According to FAA officials, the UARC flyers will be allowed the
following at this weekend's Wings Over Camarillo airshow:
- The UARC pilots can do a flyby in formation at 500 feet
followed by single-file passes at 200 feet.
- The pylons will be inflated, but the pilots will fly 140 feet
above them and 250 feet away from them laterally.
- They will not fly through the pylons as they originally wanted
- The UARC pilots will fly the same path that all other air show
performers fly, and will be subject to the same restrictions that
apply to the other performers.
- This means that, among other things, they'll fly with their
wings level and not perform any aerobatic maneuvers.
- Wings Over Camarillo documented in writing what the flights
will entail, including the flight path and altitudes.
And with luck, they'll do just that and not give into the
temptation to show off or violate their agreements... and thereby
endanger untold numbers of people in the process.
The FAA thought long and hard about this, and while their
exposure to the UARC organization was less than impressive
while they had to deal with an extensive amount of
misinformation and a ponderous lack of preparation, the Feds have
promised that they will watch these proceedings VERY carefully.
"We'll have multiple FAA inspectors at the air show this weekend to
ensure that public safety will be protected at all times. They will
pre-brief all airshow participants on what they can and cannot do,
and they will carefully observe all participants during the course
of the air show," notes FAA PAO Ian Gregor.
That was the carrot, this is the stick... Gregor stated that,
"If any participant violates the terms of the air show waiver, we
can cancel the waiver and the entire show will have to
In other words, if UARC screws up, the show comes to a
ANN did learn that UARC's controversial promoter, David Riggs,
applied on his own to fly through the pylons. The FAA reports that
they, "denied that application."
While there is little point to the current UARC plans for the
Wings Over Camarillo airshow, questions are arising, with great
rapidity and urgency over why WOC didn't check the preparation,
plans, background and qualifications of the UARC crew. Attempts to
ask about UARC and some of the more worrisome details of the event
(especially things like David Riggs's FAA violations, the buzzing
of the Santa Monica Pier in 2008, and his multiple criminal
convictions) not only fell on deaf ears, but when WOC honcho Jon
Whited was directly questioned by ANN and other parties, the
reception was defensive, if not hostile. According to an email
forwarded to ANN, Whited responded to one blogger's questions (and
stories) about her concerns over the hazards of this event by going
on the attack, "You took a very irresponsible position for the
purpose of bringing damage to someone who has done nothing but help
us with our air show. I hope he sues you. Your actions caused our
air show, the youth we support, and a corporation damage."
That acerbic reply is questionable, in that legitimate questions
about the safety of the event were rooted in the UARC
organization's many false claims and errant statements, the lack of
qualifications shown for their pilots, the lack of prep
demonstrated by the organization itself, and the previous record of
unsafe practices for which at least two of the UARC pilots received
FAA violations and a suspension of their airmen privileges -- and
that's but the tip of the iceberg -- making Whited's reaction
mysterious and quite worrisome. ANN has attempted to speak to
Whited a number of times in the last several weeks, after one short
conversation succeeded very briefly in June (where Whited told ANN
to contact the event's attorney and then hung up when the topic of
David Riggs was brought up), but not a single one of our calls has
been returned. Worse than that, media reports in local publications
seem to suggest that Whited is attempting to place the blame for
UARC's many failures on the back of the FAA... and based on ANN's
evaluation of the last few months (and let's face it, we're hardly
cheerleaders or apologists for the FAA), such claims are wholly
without merit. ANN is proceeding with an extensive FOIA (Freedom of
Information Act) request for the documents, record s and
communications surrounding this effort in order to make sure that
the matter is properly documented and verified for the future.
In the meantime, the Camarillo airshow boasts a pretty solid
line-up of legitimate and qualified airshow performers -- and the
UARC pilots... who will fly an exceedingly docile profile that will
require little skill and offer even less excitement or
entertainment value (IMO). And if UARC actually behaves themselves
and does what they are told, we hope for a safe event... but to be
perfectly honest, there are a great number of folks associated with
this effort who have grave doubts that the UARC pilots, and Riggs
in particular, will fly as they are told.
We'll keep you informed.
ANN E-I-C Note: ANN thanks accomplished
aviation photographer, Eric Van Gilder, of Van Gilder Aviation
Photography, for the use of the UARC photos.