Shoreham airshow crash

posted on 8th of september, 2015

Readers of my previous blog on airshow photography will know that I enjoy photographing aviation subjects and always try and get to an airshow each year. This year I was set to go to the Airbourne airshow at Eastbourne but bad weather on the day I was going led to the cancellation of all flying. The excellent Dunsfold airshow which I attended last year was out as I wasn't free to go that weekend. This really only left the annual airshow at Shoreham-on-Sea in my area. This became a must see event when it was announced that XH588 -the last flying Vulcan bomber would be displaying on Saturday 22. This is the last year of flying for the Vulcan and, although I have seen it twice before, I was delighted to have the opportunity for one last chance to see it in the sky.
The weather was perfect both as a spectator and as a photographer. Plenty of sunshine and blue skies -ideal for airshow photography. Late morning saw a number of aerobatic displays including Tiger Moths and the RAF parachute team The Falcons. The real action of the day got going just after 1.15pm with the arrival of the Hawker Hunter jet fighter. This fifties vintage jet is a favourite of mine having seen a number of Hunter displays at various airshows. A low level high speed run down the display line was followed by a steep climb and loop to bring it back to the display area. Because of my position this is where I lost sight of it behind the grandstand area as I poised my camera to capture the return run.
The rest is tragic history which has made the news around the world as the Hunter lost altitude before crashing on the busy A27 road next to the airfield. I sensed something was wrong when the aircraft hadn't reappeared as expected. There was then the sounds of gasps followed by a loud explosion. I moved my position a few feet in time to see a large fireball go up followed by plumes of thick black smoke. At this point the thousands of spectators simply fell very quite. The Hunter had been only seconds into its display and there was a sense of disbelief and shock at what had just happened.
Initially, most thoughts were for the fate of the pilot but it was only later that the full horror of what had happened emerged as the death toll from the A27 road reached eleven with the pilot (still) in critical condition. Needless to say, the rest of the airshow was cancelled. The one exception was the Vulcan. About an hour after the crash XH588 made one very slow and very quite flypast over the scene in what was a very moving and poignant tribute to those lost in the crash. That, sadly, will be my last memory of seeing the Vulcan in flight.
It truly was an appalling experience and not one I would want to repeat. Far worse, of course, for friends and family of those that died. You always have an awareness at airshows that something could go wrong but, in reality, never actually expect it to happen. An investigation into the crash is underway and currently in the UK all Hawker Hunters are grounded with restrictions placed on displays by other vintage jets.
Will I still visit and photograph airshows? Certainly - I cannot imagine I'm likely to witness something like this again. Regards, David.
(For clarity, the Hunter and Vulcan images are from my archives and not from this event). 



Comments (4)

Posted by FabioConcetta on September 18, 2015
It 'a story very tragic!
Posted by Newsfocus1 on September 10, 2015
Yes Komar, a few feet either way could have made all the difference to the loss of life. Amazingly, it's just been announced that the pilot has been released from hospital and is ready to help the accident inspectors.
Posted by Komar on September 09, 2015
My first thought was that how unfortunate that it crashed on a busy road, especially in an area with so many fields around. So sad that the crash had such devastating consequences for so many people.
Posted by Perstock on September 08, 2015
I am also an airshow-fan and eye witnessed and photographed the JAS 39 Gripen crash in the middle of Stockholm in 1993. Then there was no fatalities but yet really frightening. I can imagine the feeling...
Regards Per

This article has been read 795 times.
Photo credits: David Fowler.

About me

I have a large archive of celebrity photographs (especially politicians) from late 1980's to the 1990's. Mainly British subjects such as Margaret Thatcher but with some international figures such as Boris Yeltsin and Lech Walesa. More recent images include travel images of Croatia and several Greek islands such as Agistri, Paxos, Halki, Symi, Meganissi, Nisyros, Alonissos, Skiathos and Skopelos.I also have images of British events including the famous Jack In The Green festival in Hastings and the Eastbourne airshow.

Hastings, UK

December (1)
March (1)
February (1)

Stock Photography that BLOGS!

Interact, make friends, share tips and techniques, have fun. Dreamstime wants your ideas and thoughts whether you are a photographer, designer or regular user. Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite images and photographers, post tutorials or simply exchange opinions with your with fellow dreamstimers.

Don't forget words and pictures go great together so make sure you choose some Dreamstime favorite pics to brighten your article. For inspiration, check out the hottest or the most useful blogs on the left.

Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite stock images and photographers

Create your blog

My favorite articles


More favorite articles

Related image searches

shoreham airshow crash hawker hunter