Eleven people feared dead in Shoreham airshow crash

Jet crashed into the A27 in West Sussex after failing to pull up from a loop manoeuvre

Emergency services vehicles amassed at the scene of the major A27 route on Saturday, August 23rd, after eleven  people were killed when a jet taking part in Shoreham Airshow in England crashed into it. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Emergency services vehicles amassed at the scene of the major A27 route on Saturday, August 23rd, after eleven people were killed when a jet taking part in Shoreham Airshow in England crashed into it. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

 

Eleven people are feared to have died in the Shoreham air crash in West Sussex on Saturday, British police said.

Sussex police assistant chief constable Steve Barry said police had identified 11 people they were treating as “highly likely to have died in this tragedy”.

He added they could not yet formally identify any of those who had died.

However three of the victims were named locally as Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, and personal trainer Matt Jones.

The footballers were on their way to play a match against Loxwood FC when they were caught up in the incident.

The death of Mr Jones (24), was confirmed on Facebook by his sister, Becky Jones, who said: “Thank you to everyone who has messaged me. We are devastated to say Matt Jones was one of the fatalities.”

Mr Grimstone was a goalkeeper with the non-league club, while Mr Schilt played in midfield.

The game against Loxwood, which was due to kick off at 3pm at Worthing United’s Robert Albon Memorial Ground in Worthing, was called off following the tragedy.

The trio were among those killed when a Hawker Hunter jet crashed into the A27 after it failed to pull up from a loop manoeuvre during a display at the show.

The plane plummeted on to the A27 and burst into a huge fireball, ploughing across the busy road just yards from cars and a group of people.

The pilot, named in reports as British Airways pilot Andy Hill, is fighting for his life in hospital in a critical condition.

Some 14 people were injured, four of whom were taken to hospital, after the jet crashed at about 1.20pm on Saturday, shortly after beginning its display in front of thousands of spectators.

The likelihood of being caught up in a disaster like the Shoreham crash is equivalent to the chances of being struck by lightning, aviation expert David Learmount has said.

Mr Learmount, a former pilot and RAF flying instructor, claimed the investigation into the incident would conclude it was not caused by the age of the jet - a Hawker Hunter military craft reportedly dating from the 1950s.

He said: “The chance of the airplane coming down actually on a road is horrifically unlikely.

“Those people died in an event which is equivalent to being struck by lightning.

“The pilot wasn’t aiming at the road and there’s a lot of territory where the road isn’t,” he said.

Mr Learmount, consulting editor of Flightglobal online magazine, predicted the Air Accidents Investigation Branch would not find the age of the plane was to blame.

“It will not be because this Hunter was too old,” he said.

“We have actually got footage right down to the point of impact. A wing didn’t fall off. It’s a misjudgment.”

He explained that safety at airshows was vigorously controlled and fatalities involving people other than pilots are extremely rare.

“Nobody in the crowd that goes to see airshows gets hurt and usually nobody at all except the pilot is hurt,” Mr Learmount claimed.

“All airshow routines are designed so they use the runway as a display line. Spectators have to be a certain distance from the display line and the aircraft are not allowed to fly over spectators.”

He added that pilots take calculated risks at airshows because that is what people want to see.

“Airshows are the biggest spectator sport in this country - more people go live to airshows than go to football,” he claimed.

“You could ban them, but pilots taking calculated risks in exciting manoeuvres is what people want to see. I don’t think the Civil Aviation Authority - who authorises the display routines - are going to change their mind.

“This is a gladiatorial display - that is what people go to see.”

Meanwhile, two planes have collided in the air at an airshow in northern Switzerland on Sunday, with at least one of the aircraft crashing after the impact.

The two planes touched each other in mid-air just before the crash at the village of Dittingen, near Basel, Marco Thomas of the Laufental fire department said.

He did not have any further information about possible injuries or casualties.

Daniel Fierchter, a spokesman for the Dittingen airshow, confirmed the crash and said rescue teams had just arrived at the scene.

Press Association