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biggin air show

Old 5th Jun 2001, 02:31
  #81 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I am as upset about these tragedies as anyone, but let's not be too harsh on the journos. In particular, David Learmount's piece makes a lot of sense. He spoke to a PPRune gathering last year, and he made the point that he has to get a crisp story into very little time.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 03:06
  #82 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Thumbs down

I understand the feelings you are going through.
If you remember the Vintage Pair (Vampire/Meteor) that crashed at Mildenhall some time ago.
The feelings I had were unsurmountable. I'd gone to Mildenhall for as many years as I ccould remember, but that day I had tears im my eyes and had to leave the show.

Please don't condemn these people, they give up their free time to entertain us. Nobody should speculate as to the cause until the investigations are complete.

My deepest feeling go out to all, both family and friends.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 03:17
  #83 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Condolences to all concerned, it's always shocking to have something like this happen once, but twice on consequitive days at the same location and another (Spitfire) comming down in France also with one fatality it can really shock you. I know Biggin well and have just spoken to my friend who has come back from Biggin said there were alot of shocked people up there after both crashes but especially after the Cobra came down as it was so visible to the crowds.

In case anyone familiar to Biggin is woundering the Cobra (as can be seen in the news footage) came down on the grass apron immediatly south of the tower (but not quite in the MOD bit) and the Vampire appears to have crashed under the electricity pillons that you can see on the approch to 21 just before you cross the airfield boundry.

I hope that the up comming election means the press forget about this soon as they could really have a good go at this if it was silly season; they have already started I note with the "should these WWII rust buckets be allowed in the air" (to quote yes you guessed it Channel 5) type stories. And as many of you have said quoting entirely useless sources just to get something on air.

My thoughts and I am sure thoses of all private pilots based at Biggin go out to everyone concerned.

o<>< GoldFish

[This message has been edited by GoldFishBowl (edited 04 June 2001).]
Old 5th Jun 2001, 03:24
  #84 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Yes also heard about a Spitfire crash in Rouen yesterday, 1 fatality as well, what a god awful weekend

Not a spotter, but anyone know which one that was???
Old 5th Jun 2001, 03:54
  #85 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

It was Martin Sargeant's.

Either a Mark V or a Mark IX. I sat in it recently - can't remember which it was and don't care. It doesn't matter.

Our bunch of display pilots at North Weald knew Martin and some of our fraternity were very close friends with him. Words like sympathy and condolences just come nowhere near.

I wonder when all this is going to stop.

God bless them

Old 5th Jun 2001, 05:12
  #86 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

A report in the South Wales Evening Post
reveals some information regarding the crew
of the Vampire.

Thoughts with all those touched by this tragedy:

City mourns crash flyer

Airport worker killed as Vampire jet falls from sky

By Jo Doek

A SWANSEA airport worker was killed in one of the two horrific fatal crashes during the Biggin air show at the weekend.

Jim Kerr, aged 32, had only left his job at the airport the previous day to pursue his dream of restoring vintage air craft full time. He and the pilot were killed instantly on Saturday afternoon when a De Havilland Vampire jet crashed at the Kent show. Mr Kerr, a father-of-one with a partner who lived at Craigcefnparc in the Swansea Valley, loved De Havilland Vampire jets and had bought and restored his own. On Saturday he took up a last minute unexpected offer of being a passenger in a display flight in the same type of aircraft at the show. But after successfully flying over the crowd four times, the 1950s former Swiss air force trainer jet suddenly spiralled out of control.

It corkscrewed twice before plummeting into a ridge and bursting into flames. Show spokesman Nick Smith said: "The only way I can describe it is that it fell out of the sky. Air accident investigators will look at and determine the cause of the accident.

"Mr Kerr had been an air traffic controller for some years at Swansea Airport. He left on Friday to pursue his dream of restoring vintage aircraft full time in California.

Swansea airport commercial manager Sarah Hopkins said: "Jim was liked by everyone at the airport and by anyone and everyone who met him."His passion was flying. Working on vintage planes was his life."He had enormous respect throughout the industry for his work and was widely sought after. "He died doing something that was for him an all consuming passion and I know everyone will miss him."

The aircraft involved in the crash was not Mr Kerr's own treasured Vampire jet which he bought in 1991 and restored.

Flintshire born Mr Kerr fell in love with Vampire jets at the age of eight when someone gave him a photograph of the military jet.

In 1984 this passion led him to join the air cadets and later train as an avionics technician at RAF Sealand. By the age of 22 he was a Vampire expert and bought a former military Vampire at a Ministry of Defence surplus equipment sale
Old 5th Jun 2001, 08:07
  #87 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Having been involved in the vintage circuit from the early to late-eighties, I can vouch for the professionalism of those teams involved with the high performance aircraft.
It is sad to recollect that, with regard to the 'Cobra, 10 years ago the same team suffered the loss of another great pilot and person in an identical aircraft but different circumstances. The teams of which these pilots were part keenly feel the loss of one of their number.
Condolences to the relatives of all killed over the weekend in various accidents (there were several) and best wishes in recovery to those injured.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 12:05
  #88 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Zlin, re your last on P5:

1. I clearly stated that i was not there on Sunday, so can offer no comment.

2. At no point have i said in any post that anyone flew over the crowd, because they did'nt.

3. As a "DA" you should be well aware, that indeed we do not need to change display heights or distances from crowd, but we do need to look at other aspects of display flying including currency on type, formation flying with different types, along with a host of other points for both pilots and organisers.

Dont jump the gun!
Old 5th Jun 2001, 13:25
  #89 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I recall watching a programme on Discovery Wings called Plane Crazy and it featured a gentleman who purchased his own Vampire and spent quite some time restoring it.

He spoke so passionately about his love for that particular aircraft and you could see the joy on his face sitting in the RH seat as it performed a series of manouvers. He said in the programme he wasn't qualified to fly his aircraft but loved flying in it.

Was that gentleman Jim Kerr?
Old 5th Jun 2001, 14:47
  #90 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a


I expect that I know you... I am scared to ask but does your mail say that Martin Sargeants Spit. crashed.... or that Martin was in it?

Drop me an email direct if it suits better

[email protected]
Old 5th Jun 2001, 14:48
  #91 (permalink)  
Raw Data
Posts: n/a
Thumbs down

Well, I'm sorry but I think it's about time the carnage stopped.

Every year, it seems, we lose irreplaceable people and aircraft- for what? A 5 minute thrill?

I would rather they all stayed on the ground, than we continue to lose them at such a rate. I'm sure the bereaved wives and children would agree, once they get past the "died doing what he loved" stuff.

Display flying needs to be made safer, and pilots need to be more current on these old aircraft- I firmly believe that very, very few display pilots spend enough time behind the controls to claim to be completely au fait with their machines- particularly at the beginning of the season.

One thing is for sure- if the losses continue at current rates, by the time my kids are old enough to really appreciate these old aircraft, there won't be any left flying... to say nothing of the tragic loss of life.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 15:06
  #92 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Poor Bastard had three young kids, there's 400 pilots at Euro-Gatwick surely someone who new him better than I, would want to start a small collection for the Family. I don't do charity but you've got to look after your own. No amount could heal, just a token gesture.

Graham McPherson
Old 5th Jun 2001, 15:10
  #93 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Raw Data,

I must say that i have to agree on your valid point regarding currency as well as types flown / conditions / expected formations, and procedures for displying aircraft with different weight classifications in the air simultaneously.

Currency on type, and ensuring the display is practiced, again and again and again in all formats at various airfields on NON display days, could go some way to ensuring incidents are rare, but the trouble is everyone is too busy driving other aircraft for their normal job, to keep current enough, except for a few drivers who fly nothing else apart from warbirds at Duxford etc.

This is my personal view.!
Old 5th Jun 2001, 15:23
  #94 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I am with you entirely, RD. The problems include currency (aggravated by hours limitations on some airframes) and, possibly, the percieved need to push the envelope just that bit further. Airshows are a business, after all.
It is statistically inevitable that sooner or later there will be casualties on the ground, either on or off the airfield. Then the politicians will step in with big flat feet, and that will be the end of air shows.
We need a thorough rethink now.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 15:34
  #95 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

How about useing replica aircraft to display and keeping the actual historic on the ground or only flying straight passes in them instead of areobatics. That way everyone gets to see the aircraft and what it was capable of but the display could be done on a modern airframe that could be flown much more often (and cheaply) so the person doing the display could be completely happy with it's handeling. Also (just a thought) ejector seats in warbirds: possible? Sensible? Discuss
Old 5th Jun 2001, 16:07
  #96 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

I love watching them fly, but I wonder if is time to cut back on the aerobatics? A couple of years ago I spent many happy afternoons watching EFA, the Rafale, Su-30 and the like practice their routines for the Farnborough airshow (working for DERA had some advantages ), but my favourite avaiation memory is sitting on the grass close to the side of the main runway while Concorde came in and landed anded almost next to me. Magic. Just seeing them and hearing them - especially the Merlin - is fine by me.

My worry is that, one day, some politician is going to try and put a stop to it and then we wont get to do either.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 16:32
  #97 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Is this really an ageing airframe thing? I dont think so. Perhaps more a case of stretching these aircraft to their very limits - and getting away with it most of the time. I think that most people would agree that these older birds get a lot more attention (maintenance wise) than a lot of the more modern equipment - a lot of TLC. We dont know what happened to any of the three warbirds that crashed this weekend....jet wash/broken control runs/whatever it is for the AAIB to sort out. Perhaps a better time to review any changes or attitudes towards where these aircraft fit in to displays would be after these reports have been finalised.

Glazed eyes dont always see that clearly.

God-bless these pilots and their loved ones, my thoughts are with you all.

Be safe
Old 5th Jun 2001, 16:39
  #98 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a


From today's Evening Standard

Fourth pilot dies in crash

by Tim Finan in France
The British pilot of a Second World War Spitfire died instantly after his plane crashed at an air display in northern France. He is the fourth Briton to die in three days while flying in a vintage warplane.

Tens of thousands of spectators at Vallée de Seine airport, near Rouen, saw the Spitfire piloted by Martin Sargeant, from Goud-hurst, Kent, plummet to the ground in a field.

Eye-witnesses saw black smoke coming from its engines seconds before it crashed late yesterday afternoon.

At the Biggin Hill air-show in Kent on Saturday, retired Air Marshal Sir Kenneth Hayr, 66, from Warwickshire, a former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and his co-pilot Jonathon Kerr, an electronics engineer from Bournemouth, died when their 1950s De Havilland Vampire jet fighter crashed.

On Sunday at the same airshow a British Airways captain and former Red Arrows pilot died when his Second World War plane nosedived during a display above Biggin Hill.

Guy Bancroft-Wilson, 43, died instantly when his US Bell King Cobra spiralled out of control at the Kent airfield and exploded in a fireball in front of the 5,000-seat main stand.

Commenting on yesterday's accident a spokesman at Rouen airport said French spectators were "deeply saddened" by the Spitfire crash as it was "an heroic survivor of the war".

French sources put the cause of the tragedy down to mechanical failure and air accident investigators have launched an inquiry.

The plane was one of 12 Spitfires, eleven British and one French-owned, which were taking part in a flypast as part of the airshow.

Old 5th Jun 2001, 16:51
  #99 (permalink)  
Thomas Doubting
Posts: n/a

It has been said before that flying 50 and 60 year old aircraft, containing a fair proportion of 50 and 60 year old parts, all of which were designed and produced under the pressures and urgency of war would still have inherent risk even if the human flying it was 100% infallible. Warbirds and the like have come to grief for many reasons including lurking limits of WW2 metallurgy. The realities of displaying Warbirds dynamically will always carry a higher degree of risk than most other forms of flight.

It has been a tragic three days. Good and very capable men have lost their lives, despite all the attention that has been given in recent years to improving safety at airshows. The emphasis seems to be rightly placed on protecting the public. This presumes, also rightly in my opinion, that those who own and fly the aircraft understand and are prepared to accept the risk.

It comes back to the question asked earlier, “is it worth the risk?” I believe the people who own and fly the aircraft get even more pleasure out of doing so than us humble mortals who have only the pleasure of watching and listening to them. I am not a display pilot, but I would hate to have that freedom regulated away from me.
Old 5th Jun 2001, 19:31
  #100 (permalink)  
ickle black box
Posts: n/a

RAW DATA, What is to be gained by leaving them on the ground, as museum monuments never to fly again?? In most sports there will be accidents and loss of life. Would you leave a racing yacht in the harbour, so that is doesn't sink in a storm drowning it's crew ?? The loss of life is tragic, but is a part of the risk taken in the sport, and it is normally a rare occourence. The loss of the airframe is not the end of the world, there are more being restored every year. If you restored a vintage aircraft to static display condition, you could probably restore 4 in the time it takes to get one back into the air. It will be a long time before there is a serious shortage of most of these aircraft(suitable for static display), with the odd exception of wooden aircraft, like the mosquito. Also, why do people resore them in the first place ?? They do it to fly them, not to leave in the hangar.

RIP guys

[This message has been edited by ickle black box (edited 05 June 2001).]

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