The Spectator

Barometer: Risky manoeuvres

Stats of the week

A Red Arrows pilot was killed when his plane crashed, the first fatality in the RAF’s aeronautical troupe since 1988.

— Aeronautics were once more hazardous. They were pioneered by a San Franciscan, Lincoln Beachey. In 1910 he took flying lessons, crashing on his first and second flights. He went on, in 1911, to entertain crowds by flying over Niagara Falls.

— By 1913 he had earned the nickname ‘the man who owns the sky’. In that year he saw a circus picture depicting a plane flying upside down, and performed the feat for the first time on 24 November 1913.

— The following year he embarked on a 126-city US tour. In one display he accidentally killed a spectator when he swept her off a hangar with his wingtip. Beachey survived until 14 March 1915 when a manoeuvre caused his wings to fall off over San Francisco Bay.

What goes up…

The civil war in Libya has moved to a lethal new phase: celebratory gunfire. Firing weapons into the air results in bullets falling back to Earth at up to 200mph. Here are some of the results:

38 deaths recorded from injuries caused by falling bullets at the Kong Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles, 1985-1992
20 killed in Iraq by celebratory fire after Uday and Qusay Hussein’s death, 2003
5 killed by falling bullets at kite festival in Lahore, Pakistan, 2007
4 killed in Baghdad after the victory of the Iraqi national football team in the Asian cup, 2007
3 killed in Philippines during New Year’s Day celebrations, 31 December 2010


Sporting champions

England beat India to become No. 1 Test cricket team in the world — out of nine countries.

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