Fighter jet in UK tragedy that claimed the lives of seven people took part in three shows in Ireland last month
Published 22/08/2015 | 19:06
The fighter jet that crashed onto a busy road in England today took part in three separate air shows in Ireland last month.
Over 150,000 saw the Hawker Hunter when it took part in the Shannon Air Display on July 18th and the Bray Air Spectacular on the following day.
A week later, the 60-year-old jet flew again at the Foynes Air Show in Limerick.
Tragedy struck this afternoon however when seven people were killed after the former RAF jet crashed onto the A27 outside the boundary of Shoreham Airport in Sussex.
The jet, which had been taking part in the Royal Air Force Association Shoreham Airshow, was completing a loop manoeuvre when it crashed in a fireball onto the busy road.
The Hawker Hunter was initially used as the RAF’s main air defence fighter and also served in ground attack, photo reconnaissance and training roles with both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
The plane that crashed today had been active on the display circuit for many years.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the plane is registered to a company in Great Canfield, Essex.
The crash at Shoreham was witnessed by thousands of people who had flocked to the first day of the air show, as well as horrified onlookers nearby.
Shoreham resident Dave Penwarden, 51, said he saw the plane explode in a "massive fireball".
"The plane was coming out of a loop-the-loop, it was fairly low," he said. "It just didn't seem to have enough speed to come out of the loop, instead of powering out it dropped too fast and hit the ground.
"There was a massive fireball and an awful lot of smoke. Afterwards there was a stunned silence.
"Everyone just went quiet, it's remarkable really. There was no more flying stunts and it's all just been quiet.
"People are waiting for when they can leave, if you drove then you can't leave and it's going to be hours."
Another witness David Hough, 76, said he saw the aircraft flying low to the ground.
"Suddenly there was a big flash and flames and lots of smoke. Everyone was very quiet and subdued afterwards.
"A lot of people now can't go home, if you came by car you're stuck."
Gairo Gomez, who works at nearby Ricardo Technological Centre, said the whole building shook.
"I saw the plane going down," he added. "I heard a huge bang and the glass was shaking and the doors were banging, the whole building was shaking.
"I saw some smoke later on, at the time I didn't realise what had happened.
"Then I was told the plane had crashed, it's terrible."