Shoreham air crash: Pilot ‘fighting for life’

andrewgirdler-global news-people re el magazine

23 August 2015

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The pilot of a jet which crashed into vehicles during Shoreham Airshow, leaving seven people dead, is in a critical condition, police have said.

It was possible more bodies could be found as searches continue, Supt Jane Derrick of Sussex Police also said.

The pilot was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and is “fighting for his life”, she added.

The Hawker Hunter jet crashed into the A27 in West Sussex at 13:20 BST as it was completing a loop manoeuvre.

“It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene,” said Supt Derrick.

Fourteen injured

She said Sussex Police had received about 40 calls from people concerned their relatives may have died or been injured in the crash.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said seven people died at the scene.

A further 14 people have been treated for minor injuries, one of whom this evening was released from hospital.

Eyewitness Archie Tipple was photographing the plane as it fell below roof top level

The plane crashed at about 13:20 BST

The Hawker Hunter is believed to have crashed after attempting a loop

The A27 was closed in both directions

The plane attempted a loop manoeuvre before it crashed

The A27 is currently shut in both directions and is not expected to re-open for the “next couple of days”, police added.

Supt Derrick also apologised to drivers who were made to wait at the airfield while congestion cleared.

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of those who died in the crash.

‘Quite sombre’

Eyewitnesses have been recalling seeing the plane fall and the subsequent explosions.

Archie Tipple, a spectator at the event, said the mood changed very quickly when people realised what happened.

“I was photographing the aircraft as it started its display and as it climbed and climbed and climbed I thought, this is pretty good.

“..but he was coming in a little bit low and I was still photographing it as it came down and then all of a sudden you just knew what was coming, and it just immediately changed, the atmosphere, from a festive one to something quite sombre,” he said.

Shoreham resident Dave Penwarden, 51, said he saw the plane explode.

“It just didn’t seem to have enough speed to come out of the loop, instead of powering out it dropped too fast and hit the ground.

“There was a massive fireball and an awful lot of smoke. Afterwards there was a stunned silence.”

‘We ran’

Meanwhile, Ailish Southall, who was driving along the A27 in West Sussex with her two children, said the plane crashed close to them.

“There were huge amounts of fire and we ran from the car to kind of avoid the debris because we were about 15 metres away, we were just across the road from where the accident happened.”

Tim Loughton MP, who represents East Worthing and Shoreham, tweeted: “Tragic news that there have been fatalities at the Shoreham Air Show crash and our thoughts and prayers must be with the families and casualties.”

The plane involved in the crash was based at North Weald Airfield in Essex which is under the jurisdiction of Epping Forest District Council.

Council leader Chris Whitbread said he was also shocked at the news and offered his condolences.

It is the second incident at the Shoreham Airshow, one of the premier airshows in the UK, in recent years.

In September 2007 James Bond stuntman Brian Brown, 49, died when he crashed a World War Two Hurricane after carrying out an unplanned barrel roll at a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain.

Hawker Hunter

The Hawker Hunter flew over crowds during the display at Shoreham Airshow

The Hawker Hunter was a mainstay of the RAF through the 1950s and early 1960s.

First flown in 1951, the single-seat plane was used as a fighter, fighter-bomber for reconnaissance and for aerobatics.

There was also a two-seat trainer version, which served with many other air forces. Two-seater variants are still used by the RAF for training.

The Hawker Hunter was deployed in major operations such as Malaya and Suez.

The plane was also flown by an RAF display team dubbed the “Black Arrows”.

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