If there’s one phobia in the world I can truly understand, it’s the fear of flying. The turbulence alone is enough to frighten the life out of people, and throw all the other variables into the mix and you have a perfectly rational fear. One thing you don’t expect when you go to the airport however, is to nearly die before you’ve even left the ground.
F1 racer pilot Thom Richard somehow survived a staggering crash last week, while sitting on the runway waiting to take off for the final race in the gold heat of the Formula One class at the National Championship Air Race. The speed demon uploaded a harrowing video to YouTube, which shows the moment two planes collided.
Thom tried to signal to race judges that something was wrong with his plane, but somehow the race was allowed to continue – leading to the incident. In the footage you can see Thom open his cockpit, totally unaware that other planes are haring towards him in an attempt to take off.
“Upon running the engine up in anticipation of the start, about 20 seconds before the green flag drop, the engine was not running well enough for flight, as you can hear from the audio, never mind racing.
“I made the decision to shut the engine down to signal the starters to halt the starting process.”
This is when it all got very chaotic. The warning was obviously not heeded by other pilots, and inexplicably the race started anyway. Lucky not to suffer a fatal injury, Thom only injured his hand – which is a minor miracle. Speaking about his injury, Thom was happy to admit he was lucky to be alive.
“The impact was violent and loud. His left leading edge shaved off the top several inches from my vertical and skimmed the turtle-deck without touching until it impacted my right hand holding up the canopy, at well over 60mph.
“I, in fact, consider myself a very lucky man. Another four feet to the left and I would have been minced meat. Literally dodging a bullet. A busted up hand is a small price to pay. I’ll take it. It’ll heal.”
I mean, that could have been absolutely devastating for all involved. I was genuinely on the edge of my seat watching that video, praying that someone wasn’t going to die. I guess that is a lesson for all, that these sorts of extreme sports should be treated with extreme caution, as anything can go wrong at any time.