The 2015 crash at Shoreham air show in England’s reminded everyone watching live or otherwise that pushing the boundaries of technology will yield results on the dramatic and tragic side of the spectrum. The crash in Sussex resulted in the deaths and injuries of people caught in the conflagration on the ground. It is a recent and powerful reminder of the risks associated with flying vintage aircraft.
Seven fatalities were initially reported, but the death toll is now eleven people, with a dozen more injured.
Andrew Hill, the pilot, is a former Royal Air Force instructor and the only person to survive the crash. He ejected before the plane hit the ground and was still in critical condition as of late August.
The plane involved, a Hawker Hunter T7 from 1955, was in the process of completing a large loop stunt when the plane failed to recover, instead slamming into the A27 motorway in exploding. This graphic video shows the initial scene of the tragedy.
Sussex police invited others to share a moment of silence to pay respects to the victims, and a ‘bridge of light‘ was put together as a temporary memorial. The A27 was shut down for a week while pieces of the aircraft and automobile were removed and the roadway was cleared.
Following the accident, the UK imposed restrictions on vintage aircraft to help prevent further accidents. Restrictions are mostly limited to high speed maneuvers and flying over populated areas. All Hawker Hunters were grounded pending investigation.
There is currently no definitive cause for the crash, but several people said the aircraft’s takeoff looked ‘labored,’ as in, the plane didn’t take off as quickly as it normally should have.
This crash is not the first for Shoreham, but it is the first incident at the show that has resulted in the deaths of anyone other than the pilot.
2015’s tragedy is an alarming reminder of the Hawker Hurricane crash from 2007 while performing a Battle of Britain re-enactment with other vintage planes.
The investigation likely won’t change much. Airshows will still go on, pilots will still fly planes, and people will still seek the thrill of seeing those majestic machines soaring overhead. Some people think air shows like this should be put to an end due to the risks, like this Facebook post from the publication This Morning. Every once in a while, there will be a reminder of the risks, but those are chances that need to be taken on a personal level.
When something goes as wrong as this in the future, all hope lies in that the only loss is an aircraft.