Multiple Fatalities at European Airshows

Deadly accident in England forces restrictions on aerial displays.

It was a tough weekend for airshows in Europe, ending with multiple fatalities of not only airshow pilots but also unsuspecting bystanders. At the Shoreham Airport in southeastern England, a Hawker Hunter, a vintage warbird jet developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, crashed in a massive fireball into the busy A27 freeway, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than a dozen, according to several news reports.

Based on video footage from the accident, it appears that the pilot was unable to recover from a low-level, loop-like maneuver. The airplane crashed in a fairly flat attitude. The pilot, 51-year-old Andrew Hill, managed to survive the crash, but is in critical condition and has been put in a medically induced coma, the BBC news said.

As a result of the crash, England's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is imposing "significant restrictions" on vintage jet displays for upcoming airshows, the BBC news said. No aerobatics will be permitted and there is a ban on any Hawker Hunter flights until further notice. Several air shows have been forced to change their programs as a result of the accident.

Meanwhile at the Dittingen airshow near Basel, Switzerland, two airplanes collided during a formation demonstration by the German GrassHoppers aerobatics team, NBC News reported. The team flies two-seat, high-wing Comco Ikarus C42 microlight airplanes. One pilot was able to eject and parachute to safety while the second airplane crashed in a barn, killing the pilot. The airplanes both crashed near homes, but there have been no reports of anyone on the ground being hurt.

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