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Fairey Firefly at Duxford

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Fairey Firefly at Duxford

Old 12th Jul 2003, 22:02
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Fairey Firefly at Duxford

I just received an early report of an incident at Duxford involving the Firefly. The air show has been suspended due to lack of fire cover on the airfield (all attending the Firefly) but no news as to the pilot as yet.
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Old 12th Jul 2003, 22:36
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From the BBC

'One dead' as air show plane crashes

An historic aeroplane has crashed into a field during an airshow in Cambridgeshire. The Fairey Firefly vintage naval aircraft with two crew on board, came down in a wheatfield away from the airfield, on the eastern side of the M11 at around 1430 BST.

It is thought one person was killed in the accident.

The aircraft was part of the Flying Legends Air Show at Duxford's Imperial War Museum, near Cambridge
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Old 12th Jul 2003, 22:59
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Sadly BBC now reporting two dead.
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Old 12th Jul 2003, 23:13
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Sky News released airshow video footage.

Sad day, both pilots confirmed as killed. My heartfelt condolences.
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Old 12th Jul 2003, 23:23
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We left the airshow just after it happened. The Firefly had just done one pass and was repositioning for another pass. Then all we saw was a dust cloud rising up. Shortly after, smoke was seen coming from the crash site. (Note, it was not visible to the crowd at Duxford).
Then the sounds of sirens and the commentator saying that the show was temporarily suspended.

My condolences to the family and friends of the pilot and his passenger.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 01:00
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My condolences to those affected by this tragic accident.

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Old 13th Jul 2003, 01:10
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So so very sad, It was a truly beautiful day today and many of us were enjoying the wonderful weather and flying.

My thoughts are with their Families and Friends.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 02:14
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Seen the footage on Sky News - it looked awful. Sympathy goes out to family and friends of those who died in this incident.

Just wondering what on earth happened - I'm sure there will be a full explaination.

Sadly, that doesn't help those that died.

PS: Let's see how long it takes before the topic of safety of airshows is dragged up. It could have been worse; much worse. The aircraft could have went into the crowd; or the nearby M11 where it crashed next to.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 02:40
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What a tragedy to 'buy it' and on such a beautiful day.

My heartfelt sympathies go out the families of the guys and to the rest of the support team at RNAS Yeovilton who must be devastated.

I feel sure that the RN will close up again as it does in these circumstances and take care of the bereaved. I hope so.

I'm just unbelievably sorry for everyone involved.

Sleeve Wing.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 03:23
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It is indeed devistating that two more people should lose their lives flying aircraft for our pleasure. How many fine pilots of the highest calibre have died over the past 10 years taking with them some irriplaceabe aviation treasures.
It is a simple fact that these historic aircraft do not fly many hours per year and consiquently nor do their pilots.
It does not matter how good you are or how many hours you have got, a low number of hours on type, plus airshow style aerobatics plus pressure on your slot, will inevitablely lead to aircraft crashing and people dying. These aircraft are old and when they were built they were not designed to last simply because the ministry new that they would have percentage losses to enemy action and to landing accidents and training losses. Look at the ME109. 35000 built and over half lost to landing accidents. And this aircraft cliamed the life of one of our most outstanding warbird pilots Mark Hanna.
I was at Legends when Hoof Proudfoot was killed in the P38 Lightning. It was the worst aviation moment of my life, and the most frightning thing I have ever seen. I and my buddies were so shocked at what we had witnessed that a number of us broke down and we don't do braking down. It was well in to the evening before we could start our long track back to the south coast.
So whats my point and what is the answer.
I have no point to make and no real solution to these problems.
I have been flying for 7 years and I know one or two of the display pilots of WWII aircraft, and I know that as long as people want to see them flying and people keep on restoring them then I live in hope that one day I will have the privilage of flying one at an airshow and I would take my chances with the rest.


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Old 13th Jul 2003, 04:35
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Cubby, you're not a journalist are you?

It is a simple fact that these historic aircraft do not fly many hours per year and consiquently nor do their pilots.
It does not matter how good you are or how many hours you have got, a low number of hours on type, plus airshow style aerobatics plus pressure on your slot, will inevitablely lead to aircraft crashing and people dying.
How do we know that any of these factors were involved? And WTF is "pressure on your slot"?

These aircraft are old and when they were built they were not designed to last simply because the ministry new that they would have percentage losses to enemy action and to landing accidents and training losses.
The aircraft had just completed a thorough rebuild and could be considered 'as new'

Sorry for my aggressive post, but I spent all day at Duxford yesterday, and spoke with the Pilot & Pax in the call of duty. I very much get hacked off when an incident like this happens and people who obviously know very little about display flying feel a great need to insert their 2 pennyworth. By all means post something relevant, but please dont post a complete load of [email protected]@cks

My sincere condolences to both Pilot and pax's families & friends. Let's not get embroiled in a speculation contest, just await the facts.. A very, very sad day for all concerned.

Rant over

Last edited by Zlin526; 13th Jul 2003 at 04:59.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 05:29
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RNHF Firefly crash


I was at DX today and saw the whole sorry tale unfold. The long and short of it was 'too low, too slow ...... far to little power'. Having executed an E->W 'run-in' pass the Firefly pulled up from this relatively slow run by and performed a barrel roll. Significant height was lost during this manoeuvre, plus airspeed. The pilot turned back on to the display centreline, in a relatively flat attitude and commenced his W->E pass. The lack of energy gained as a result of the prevous low altitude manoeuvre meant that this second pass was very slow, but with similar (low) RPM to the initial pass. After this run-by the pilot pulled the a/c nose up, approximately South Easterly and began to barrel roll. Having just rolled inverted, the lack of airspeed cause the aeroplane's nose to drop, resulting in an approximate 80deg. 'nose-down' attitude. Some lateral oscillation was evidenced in the attempts to recover, but insufficient height remained to facilitate recovery and although a probably 30deg attitude had been acheived the Firefly impacted rising farmland some 1 mile south of the A505 junction ........ the impact resulted in a huge cloud of earth, chalk and cereal crop ...... there was no evidence of fuel ignition on impact. A tragic event to witness, resulting in the loss of two lives and a very rare airframe. My condolences to the families of the two crewmen. On a closing note guys........ be careful in quoting particular aircraft types involved in accidents and making an inference that indicates that the type of A/C was responsible in some part. Remember the facts ....... pilot error is the No.1 killer, mechanical or associated failures are far behind in percentage terms. The papers will be full of this incident tomorrow, and more individuals will see that bad news than 'we' will see the facts in the aviation press. Duxford is just coming off the back of bad press following the publishing of the L-39 accident report ...... if we want to see these superb aircraft flying long into the future, we need to get right behind the organisations and private individuals who go to so much trouble to bring this history to life.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 05:30
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On the tele it looked like low level aerobatics

So sorry for the families of the crew.

Should be fly by only clearance, would stop all this happening.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 05:34
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Saw this Firefly on its first flight after it returned from Australia and many times since. Yesterday morning I looked up to watch it as it climbed out from Yeovilton before turning East.

A tragedy for all concerned and my thoughts are with the relatives of those who died.

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Old 13th Jul 2003, 05:48
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Another sad event, again condolences to all involved.

This seems to be an unfortunately common occurence in air displays worldwide. I don't know the specifics of this case but are these pilots pushing things too much for the public? They are flying beautiful machines, maybe the displays should be done at a higher level. I know I certainly wouldn't complain. Keep it up guys, everyone loves to see it, but more than anything we would love to see you guys back on the ground.

Thanks for your art.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 07:37
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Sad i agree however my post on the sudan 737 refers.

(my intenton is not to be disrepectful to the dead just to point out the imbalance, so save your slagging).
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 16:36
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Unhappy Fairey Firefly at Duxford

Having now repeatedly watched video footage of the Duxford accident I agree 100% with Leicester1. The manoeuvres during the final 15-20 seconds all seemed to lack energy (speed) management... the start of the attempted pull-up from wings level was initiated at very low level. At an airshow bristling with aerobatic displays, was it really necessary to put this dear old lady of the skies through a low level aerobatic routine? Very sad.. and ironic too after my Friday afternoon posting lamenting the loss of the CAF Heinkel 111 and its crew. God bless them. bm

........and what dreadful coverage by Sky News. Pretty face describes aircraft as doing "tricks" then male colleague states that one pilot ejected.... from a '49 Firefly for God's sake.
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 17:01
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Disagree with a lot of the above posts I'm afraid...

1. Cause of accident. Please await the AAIB report - I'm glad you individuals have already done their job for them. As for too "low & slow" - glad you know the limits the Firefly display works to (please post them here), and what the speed and height was yesterday (again please post here).

2. Stopping Aerobatic displays. Well - why not just ground them - plenty of accidents in these aircraft landing and taking off (don't know how you'll stop that), or transits. In fact why not ban all flying all together - that'll stop aircraft accidents?

Flying these aircraft in air displays gives the paying public, and the pilots concerned much pleasure. The pilots especially know the risks involved, and choose, indeed compete for the seats, to do this. The CAA regulate the airshows to minimise the hazard to the public - as they should - and seem pretty good at it.

Potentially one might reduce the number of accidents at airshows by more regulation e.g. more practices in type. I doubt this would reduce the overall accidents - it would just transfer them away from the airshows - probably would actually increase the overall risk, and definitely the costs.

Flying displays are one of largest public attendance events in the country, and the numbers killed on the flying side are almost certainly less than the public killed in their cars just getting to and from the airshows. Its just that any accident draws a disproportionate degree of publicity...
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 17:22
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Your post is not lost on me certainly.

Whilst I have to agree that any accident is very sad, the outpouring of "emotion" for two people who knew the danger of their obsession against the lack of thought of the majority on this site showed for some totally innocent 100 or so Sudanese who only wished to travel between A and B, is appalling.

Either all people involved in aviation pull together and show their heartfelt sorrow for those concerned in these tragedies or they shut up completely.

Sometimes these threads can leave a real sour taste in the mouth.

My rant over!
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Old 13th Jul 2003, 17:26
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Why THANK you Nigel!!

Just await the AAIB report guys -I've had enough of this armchair accident investigation.....

Superb day of some excellent formation flying in disparate types sadly marred by this incident. May the crew rest in peace.

I wonder how many died on the roads yesterday.....

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