Dangerous sports OK when they don’t endanger others
The apparent crash of Steve Fossett’s plane in the wilds of Nevada two weeks ago, combined with the third pilot death this week at the Reno National Championship Air Races, is a lot of tragedy in a short period of time.
But organizers made the right decision in not canceling the air races after determining there was nothing about the event or its location that contributed to the crashes, and that the event was not endangering people on the ground.
Flying aircraft like those that crashed is inherently dangerous, and that is something that those who participate fully accept. It’s a sad coincidence that these crashes came in such close proximity to each other, but if they do not pose undue danger to others there is no reason to halt the event.
Fossett was a daring adventurer who had long ago come to terms with the danger his exploits exposed him to. A great number of people have participated in the search and a great deal of money has been spent. That’s the appropriate response, of course … a human life is worth far more than the cost of the search.
But Fossett’s search should serve as a reminder for all of us, whether we participate in dangerous sports or simply enjoy occasional hiking trips, that we have a responsibility to think of those who may have to put themselves in danger to rescue us.
And, second, the expense of such searches often borne by taxpayers would be far less.
Had Fossett taken measures beforehand to give more information about his intentions by filing a flight plan, or if he had included a companion, it’s likely the search would have long ago concluded. And possibly even with the safe return of the adventurer.