Airshow Safety: The View from ICAS – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here: Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

In the wake of a difficult weekend (and, indeed, a difficult season) for the airshow community, I asked John Cudahy to sit down for a few minutes to talk about airshow safety.

John has been the president of the International Council of Air Shows, Inc. (“ICAS”) since 1997. I’ve heard him speak at the annual convention in Las Vegas for the past two years and I’m returning to Las Vegas again this December.

John is one of those people who has always been on my list of people to bring onto the show at some appropriate time. I had thoughts of bringing him on as a part of the upcoming episode encapsulating my experience attending ICAS’s Airshows 101 class at the last convention. But the events of the summer conspired to make it more important to bring John onto the show now to talk about the ICAS safety culture.

In this interview, John gives you a recap of the history of airshow safety in North America and talks fully and frankly about how the airshow community discusses, addresses, and lives with risk. He identifies the differences between airshow operations and air race operations. And he talks about safety from the standpoint of the crowd and that of the performers themselves.

One note on the audio: In the early going, John differentiates air race and air show operations, but probably misspeaks and says “air show” when he means to say “air race.” But the context makes the audio pretty clear in spite of the transposition.

The photo that leads these show notes is of ICAS member and air boss George Cline ( presenting the Airshows 101 course at the ICAS Convention in 2009. Airshows 101 is a day-long introductory course that explains the basics of airshow logistics, layout, regulatory approvals, and other important information for newer members of airshow organizers. I covered the event in 2009 and attended as a full-up paid student in 2010.

More information about ICAS is available at John’s ICAS bio is at


ICAS 2010: Airshows 101

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or links to show audio or video? Please check out the other entries.

I spent most of the day today in Airshows 101, a seminar that acquaints new airshow staff with many of the issues and processes associated with putting on a great airshow. Basically a day in a room with five of the nation’s best air bosses: Ralph Royce, George Cline, Larry Strain, Bill Snelgrove, and Dick Hanusa. These guys have been doing this for decades and they have something like 150 years of experience among them.

I’m chuckling at myself as I write this Sunday evening in the hotel room. I figured that a whole day would be enough to write an episode on the fly based on the information in the seminar. Yeah. Right.

The seminar is kind of like one of those highlight reels that they show Navy pilots of botched carrier landings. Lots and lots of talk about what can go wrong at an airshow. From weather to parking problems to slips and falls to raging drunks to midair collisions. It might just make you think twice about putting on an airshow. But the underlying message is that this is a doable thing with a lot of work and a lot of advance planning.

The printed materials are something like 50 pages of PowerPoint slides. And many of them are pretty dense with content. I do want to do an episode on this, but it’s not something I’m going to get done here in the hotel room. Even with more time, the best I’ll be likely to do will be to give a sense of how much stuff there is to do. But maybe that’s enough. In any case, I have a renewed respect for the people who put these things on year after year.

I also got a chance to meet up again with Jay “Face Shot” (and, more recently, “MJ”) Consalvi, one of the two Navy pilots featured in the 2008 Peyton Wilson documentary, Speed & Angels. I met Jay at Le Central last year, but I didn’t really know who he was and I hadn’t seen the film. I picked up the DVD after getting home and have since become a fan.

I tracked Jay down at the reception this evening and played fanboy for a few minutes, during which I got him to sign my DVD.

I’ll probably go orbit around the bar a few times and then hit the hay. I’m not going to be flying my desk tomorrow or Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be straining at its tie-downs. I’ll try to keep my body on Eastern Time and get a couple of things done in the morning before the sessions start. But then it’s back into the world of ICAS.