Aircraft crashes during mock dogfight at Shoreham Airshow, United Kingdom

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007, missing man formation.
Image: Julian Berry.

An aircraft dating back to the Second World War has crashed at Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, United Kingdom whilst participating in a mock dogfight, killing the pilot. The plane was with the Royal Air Forces Association and had been performing in a Battle of Britain display.

Witness Tim Deakin described the chain of events to BBC News 24: "The main point of the show was a Second World War dogfight between some Messerschmitts and some Spitfires. Midway through the dogfight one of the planes, I'm not sure which one, literally, turned quite steeply, went into almost a straight dive and ploughed into a hill probably about a mile from the airfield. There's still quite a bit of confusion about which aircraft it was."

Witness Holly Russell had some more details: "They were doing a mock dog fight and it looked like the plane was doing a dive, but it was going too fast and smashed straight into the ground. It was nose down... There was a mushroom cloud of black smoke."

Authorities could not confirm any injuries or fatalities, but the missing man formation was performed in a flyby shortly after the crash. The plane went down into a field near the A27, about a mile from the airfield. Emergency services and a police helicopter attended the scene. The plane was a Hurricane, one of three performing alongside the two Spitfires and five Messerschmitts.

The show is thought to have been attended by about 20,000 people, and was delayed by about 30 minutes after the crash. However, eventually a tannoy (PA) announcement stated that the pilot "would have wanted them to carry on", and the show continued. The crash occurred on the first day of the two days the annual airshow is scheduled to take.

Officials have requested for anyone filming the airshow at the time to come forward in the hope that the footage will assist in investigating the cause of the crash.