No American sporting event can begin without at least a few fireworks and the Formula 1 grand prix in Austin, Texas was no different. However, the fireworks show that kicked off the Austin Grand Prix last weekend didn't go as smoothly as planned, as a TV camera helicopter was caught in the middle. Thankfully, disaster was avoided.
In a video from Twitter user Bryson Sullivan, you can see the helicopter engulfed in the fireworks' explosions and even hear bits of debris hit it. Once the pilot realized they were in a dangerous spot, they flew away from the fireworks pretty quickly. The pilot avoided significant damage to the helicopter but it could have been much worse.
“It’s definitely super dangerous,” a source within the helicopter community told The Drive. “A number of things that could go wrong: the windscreens are acrylic so [a firework] could go right through and hurt the pilot, the engine could ingest something if there’s no barrier filter, debris could get into the rotor controls. The [body] panels are thin aluminum or carbon fiber so it could puncture one of those and hit a flight control or wire,” they added.
It's pretty horrifying to think about a helicopter engine potentially ingesting firework bits and failing, or the pilot being incapacitated from debris perforating the windscreen, all while flying above a venue with over 400,000 people in attendance. The video doesn't seem too scary at first, thanks to the pilot's quick thinking and even quicker hands. But it must have been a brown-pants moment for that pilot when they heard fireworks suddenly hit the helicopter.
The fireworks were launched during the end of the Star-Spangled Banner, as per usual. Though, maybe next time let's not make the "bombs bursting in air" literal.
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