A Memorial weekend air
race experienced a tragic accident when a racer went down and a
rescuer racing to his aid, was killed in a ground accident,
Race number 59, 'Miss Lynn,' a Formula 1 air racer (shown
below), was reportedly involved in an engine failure and went down
at Clarence Page airport, just West of OKC, at approximately 1225,
local time. The aircraft hit hard, reportedly cartwheeled several
times and broke up before coming to rest. The pilot, Steve Mountain
of Lincoln, Nebraska, was extricated and airlifted to an OKC
hospital where he was listed in critical condition.
The aircraft came to rest at the side of an active runway where
OKC FD official, Phil Sipe, said, "The debris field was scattered
over a fairly small area, and there was a gouge on the east edge of
the runway... (Mountain's aircraft) appeared to tumble; the wings
were torn off the fuselage, and it came to a stop within 50 feet of
The tragedy was compounded when an (as yet unnamed) airport
ground crew member, racing to the scene of the accident fell off
the back of a pickup truck and was killed.
'Miss Lynn' was
reportedly co-built/owned by Fountain and fellow Formula 1
adherent, Lee Debus. The races at Clarence Page were the first to
be held at the airport and were a two-day feature at the airshow.
The race schedule featured three to four races a day of five planes
Formula 1 Air Racing Background
Far less expensive to pursue than other air racing venues (and
NO less exciting), Formula One's rules are simple.
According to the Formula One race organization,
all F1 racers must be powered by a 200 cubic inch Continental
engine (the same 100HP engine used in a Cessna 150 trainer). The
weights and size of every major part must be within stock limits.
The cam profile and carburetion are strictly controlled. The racers
must have at least 66 square feet of wing, weigh at least 500
pounds empty, and have fixed landing gear and a fixed pitch
propeller. International Formula 1 is one of only four
organizations in the United States authorized by the FAA to
organize and run air races. This is due to our professional
approach to technical inspections and pilot qualifications, our
outstanding track record for safety, and our demonstrated ability
to police ourselves. These racers have evolved over 50 years, and
are the only thoroughbred racing airplanes in use today.
The rules were designed
to provide a fast and economical racing class. They have succeeded
well on both counts. International Formula 1 Air Racing is one of
the fastest sports in the world. These racers routinely post lap
speeds around a 3 mile oval in excess of 240 mph, and have been
clocked on the straightaways at well over 260 mph, all while flying
only 35' off the ground. Yet the cost to compete in a world class
racing machine is far less than any other sport.
The races start from the ground, with the entire field of 6 to 8
airplanes taking off right in front of the crowd, and racing for
the lead at the first turn. The races are generally 8 laps of a 3
mile oval course. Top planes post lap times of about 45 seconds.
The class is highly competitive, with the difference between first
and third often less than 1 mph.
E-I-C Note: To add insult to injury, one
aviation business owner got caught making a quote that was both
sensational as well as potentially counter-productive to the
interests of aviation, at large. ANN can not emphasize, enough, the
care one needs to take when being quoted about aviation stories in
non-aviation media. The lack of expertise inherent in non-aviation
media often means that mis-quotes and errors will be published
without correction and, worse, the most sensational aspects of a
discussion are the ones most likely to see publication.
In the case of this crash, local airport business owner, Scott
Rayburn, of Aerospace Refinishing, Inc., was reportedly quoted
saying, "They're like oversized model airplanes. This is definitely
not something you want to fly in from here to Texas... They
look like coffins with wings." While ANN has a hard time
equating the sleek aerodynamically efficient lines of the typical
Formula One racer with a coffin, the connotation delivered with
such quotes is negative, misleading, and in light of the above
reported accident, harmful to a segment of aviation that probably
did not deserves such a characterization. Word to the wise... when
dealing with the media, choose your words carefully and think them
through.-- Jim Campbell, ANN Editor-In-Chief