Fighter jet crashes during Children's Day airshow in Thailand

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

A fighter jet crashed, killing the pilot, at Hat Yai International Airport, Songkhla​, Thailand this morning during an annual Children's Day airshow.

Three Thai JAS 39C Gripens in flight, from file.
Image: Pia Ericson/Försvarets Materielverk (My News Desk).

The JAS 39C Gripen crashed onto a runway at around 9:30 am local time (0230 UTC) and exploded, closing the airport to commercial flights. The pilot was identified as Squadron Leader Dilokrit Pattavee. Local media reports an airport fire vehicle rolled over while responding.

Children screamed in video footage of the crash. The Royal Thai Air Force asked that images of the accident not be shared, but this has not deterred the press. Air Force spokesperson Pongsak Semachai said an investigatory commission would be formed. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha offered his sympathies to Pattavee's relatives.

Thailand began purchasing the Swedish-built Gripen jets in 2008 and has twelve. None of its neighbours have similar aircraft, which cost the nation around 2.5 billion baht (US$70 million) each.