Worst Airshow

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I remember seeing the T-34 crash at mildenhall think that may have been 1984. Also saw the frecce tricolori crash at mildenhall in about 1979 and then in 1986 saw the vintage pair crash there. Then i saw the vampire crash at biggin hill for me those were my worst airshow experiences

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how did the kids get that close?

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The only airshow crashes I've seen were as a little kid at Culdrose in the early 80's- a little Beaver I think it was just flipped right over into the ground- and then I saw the Mig29 collision at Fairford RIAT.

The worst thing about that one was not the prospect of the pilots being killed- their instantaneous safe ejection was obvious for all to see- but rather, it was seeing the gut-reaction of the Blenheim crew on the ground beneath them, running towards their newly-finished Blenheim as if to throw their arms over it...now THAT I won't forget.

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I have already posted about the weather in the UK, but I have also witnessed my share of crashes! First one I saw was Gipsy Moth G-ABYA at the 1972 Biggin Hill Air Fair. He stalled at low level and piled vertically into a tree on the edge of the airfield. Both pilot and passenger broke both arms and legs I believe, but survived. The aircraft took 30 years(Christ, am I THAT old?) to rebuild and flew again in 2002. Saw the 'second' Vintage Pair Meteor T.7 crash at Coventry in 1987, I think, killing the pilot.Also was at RIAT Fairford when the two Russian MiG-29s collided, but not in the crowd - RIGHT UNDERNEATH them on the flightline and had to dive into a Minibus to shelter from the bits falling from the sky! Saw 'Hoof 'Proudfoot crash the P-38 Lightning in a ball of flame at Duxford in '95 and TFC P-63 Kingcobra at Biggin Hill in 2001 (can't believe they lost BOTH P-63s like this -what bad luck!)

Last crash I saw was the "Spirit of St.Louis" replica at Coventry two years ago. Was talking to the pilot just before, so horrific to watch him take off then see the starboard wing collapse and plummet to the ground!

A lot of good display pilots have been lost and several irreplacable classic aircraft, but I don't think of any of these shows as the 'worst' air shows as they know the risks involved and I like to think of all the pleasure these pilots have given us by taking these risks over the years.

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18 years 8 months

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how did the kids get that close?

The field is right next to the road that runs parallel with Duxfords runway,there is a large access area for farmers to get onto the field.The plane was'nt very far into the field and anyone with reasonable fitness and sturdy shoes could get there in 1 minute or so.
Profile picture for user Dave Homewood

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The only fatal airshow crash I know of here in New Zealand was when Ian Reynolds was killed in his Chipmunk at Wanaka in 1994.

I know John Greenstreet was killed in the Harvard in the Roaring 40's practice the day before the Ardmore Airshow in 1990 (?) but I don't know of any others that were not simply minor prangs and spills in this country. I'd be interested to hear if there were any fatal airshow accidents before these ones.

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Norwich 2000

Quite a nice line up what with the Invader, vampire, Meteor Mustang formation but...

very little static even the Cessna 172 I arrived in went on static! the stalls were miles from the flight line and the display was very disjointed, with acts displaying between scheduled flights.

LOL, thanks for reminding me, yes Norwich 2000 was simply awful!! The Commentary was provided by some local radio DJ who knew bu*ger all about aeroplanes. The RAF got so naffed off with the organisers, the Tornado's left while we were waiting in traffic, never to return!

I seem to remember that trade stalls were not only miles from the flight line, they were also miles from each other for reasons of "fire safety"! :rolleyes:

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Thought that this thread had taken a distinctly morbid tangent, but the original question did state for "whatever reason" and the worst airshows surely have to be when an aircraft crashes and obviously even more so when someone loses their life.

I too have seen my fair share of accidents and incidents. My first memory is of a Tiger Club? turbulent in 197ooh very longtime ago, venue unsure though it may have been Gaydon or Colerne, it failed to pull out of a dive.
Yeovilton 1975 and the RAF Harrier display pilot was dismounting after his display, some how he triggered the ejection seat even though he wasnt in it and he and seat were suddenly 200' in the air. We left soon after because I was a very upset 10 year old (Parents tell me I was physically sick after the Turb crash) and I never learnt the fate of the man - I only imagine it was fatal.
The USAF RF4C crash at the Brawdy show in 1987 was also a very memorable (for all the wrong reasons) event.

Pete Truman - you seem to have spent many shows "on the outside". The T34C crash at Mildenhall in 29/5/83 was a civvy machine, being demonstrated as a possible RAF trainer JP replacement. The crash changed UK airshow rules as he was "filling in" for a few minutes at the request of ATC following his practiced sequence. He failed to recover from a very low stall turn, impacting on the South (non-public) side, hence the fire crew's perhaps less than symapthetic handling of the bodies. From the public enclosure, the crash resulted "merely" in an upsurge of soil and dirt with no explosion, I feel most of the crowd didnt even notice it. If it had landed on the nearby stratotanker then things would have been much different. From then on non-practiced display sequences were banned and if a gap occurs in a display programme, then so be it.
Would the Wethersfield show you refer to be the 1988 event? If so , the Phantom display crew were the same ones who tragically lost their lives practicing for the Abingdon show in the September ( which I witnessed), causing the cancellation of the event. The week before at Finningley, many commented on the late recoveries from several manouveres, including the fatal loop.

Luckily for me I've missed the later fatal crashes, the last one I can recall would be the RR Spit at Woodford in '92.
I hope it stays that way.

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I'd say the "worst" airshow in recent years in terms of accidents and fatalitiies would have to have been the Ramstein show in 1988, for obvious reasons.

From more subjective angles, there have been a few that disapointed - a Wroughton Great Warbirds display in the early 90s that was a literal wash out with lashing rain creating ankle deep mud throughout the public area and very little flying. But bad weather of course can ruin any display. Others have been marred, but not ruined by bad commentators, long gaps in the flying, overpriced food or badly set up facilities, for which the worst must have been Alconbury in 1976 when my mum had to spend 2 hours in the massive queue for the ladies and it 4 hours to get off the airfield later on!

The _best_ shows (in terms of flying) I recall though -

Hucknall 1971(?) Blue Angels F4 display - wow!
Mildenhall Air fetes 1976 - 90. Consistently fab.
Alconbury 1976 - Belgian Slivers (nutters), YF16...
Finningly Silver Jubilee review of the RAF 1977 - for sheer numbers of machines, the Vulcan scramble and that bowing Harrier routine which is de riguer now...

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18 years 3 months

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I'd say the "worst" airshow in recent years in terms of accidents and fatalitiies would have to have been the Ramstein show in 1988, for obvious reasons.

Hucknall 1971(?) Blue Angels F4 display - wow!
Mildenhall Air fetes 1976 - 90. Consistently fab.
Alconbury 1976 - Belgian Slivers (nutters), YF16...
Finningly Silver Jubilee review of the RAF 1977 - for sheer numbers of machines, the Vulcan scramble and that bowing Harrier routine which is de riguer now...

The "worst" airshow crash is the Lviv, Ukraine Su27 crash in July 2002. 83 people lost their lives compared to 70 at Ramstein.

On a lighter note , agree entirely with the above, especially Mildenhall - classic shows.
The Alconbury show with the Slivers (making their last international appearance) was '75, not '76 (though the weather was very 76ish!!)

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The "worst" airshow crash is the Lviv, Ukraine Su27 crash in July 2002. 83 people lost their lives compared to 70 at Ramstein.

On a lighter note , agree entirely with the above, especially Mildenhall - classic shows.
The Alconbury show with the Slivers (making their last international appearance) was '75, not '76 (though the weather was very 76ish!!)

Ah, fair enough. I'd unremembered the Lviv crash.

Sounds like my fading memory has run the 75 and 76 Alconbury shows together. I do recall the Slivers making seemingly endless head-on runs at high speed - would love to see that now!

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17 years 6 months

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Reply to Kodak:-
The only airshow I've described from the outside was Duxford 2003,with regard to Mildenhall,we were routed in through the town and the south east crash gate taking us along the eastern end of the runway,very disconcerting as the KC-135 was about to roll,we were parked right at the eastern end of the airfield and by the time we sorted out all the usual gear , and my parents ,the mentor had started to display.
We were heading for the flightline when my wife and mother decided to go to the portaloo,at this point the plane crashed in a haze of fuel and dust right in front of us,within the airfield and in full view of several thousand people,my wife burst into tears and wanted to go home,but my father and I thought the flying we had seen was
not safe.
You are right about people not being aware as later on we were further up the crowd line and people were wondering what the wreckage was all about.
It was Wethersfield 88,we had just moved to Finchingfield,a hot day and a friend of mine from London was helping me wire the boiler,you could see the landing lights from the garden,the Starlifter made a startling appearance over the village while the Phantom circled over my house,my friend and I decided to walk to the airshow,the only time I've ever been able to do this,and we did pay to get in.
Wethersfield is now occupied by the MOD police and is a bit of a sad place although the local ATC still fly gliders at weekends,summer weekends can be a bit hairy with the gliders up,aircraft landing at Stansted and the Duxford warbirds roaring over in transit,last year we watched a spitfire cross only a few hundred feet below a Ryanair 737.
WebPilot:-
The Hucknall display was 1972,I had bought my first SLR,a Zenit of course and the shutter failed on the day so I have no photographic record,I remember the impressive take off by the Blue Angels when they went low level inverted over the M1.But don't forget it was the first display by the Reds after a bad accident and they were determined to prove a point which they did impressively with some incredible low level manoevers.
Finally,back to the Firefly,There were a lot of people watching near the crash site as there are houses nearby,one of which does an airshow barbecue,I think that alot of the people in the houses just came out to help and were in a bit of a state of panic,usually their is a police barracade at this point but they were away patrolling the road,we were grilled by a policeman who had been an investigator at the P-36 accident.One bloke had a lucky escape as the aircraft went just over his head,he kept videoing though and the results were shown on BBC Look East,very scary.I recall the pilot doing a series of flick turns to try and recover,if he had gone down hill he may have recovered but he may have been aware of the number of people in the field down there.What was the results of the Firefly inquiry?

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Just a comment,did anybody see the last Blue Angels display at Finningley,was the singleton high speed flyby a little close to the top of the big wheel,which was occupied at the time.

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17 years 10 months

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Fortunately, when I was still frequently attendin airshows nobody crashed. I am only complaining about the weather as at least in two occasions I remeber, not a single aircraft flew.
After the ramstein disaster, I never attended an airshow anymore.

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It was Wethersfield 88,we had just moved to Finchingfield,a hot day and a friend of mine from London was helping me wire the boiler,you could see the landing lights from the garden,the Starlifter made a startling appearance over the village while the Phantom circled over my house,my friend and I decided to walk to the airshow,the only time I've ever been able to do this,and we did pay to get in.
Wethersfield is now occupied by the MOD police and is a bit of a sad place although the local ATC still fly gliders at weekends,summer weekends can be a bit hairy with the gliders up,aircraft landing at Stansted and the Duxford warbirds roaring over in transit,last year we watched a spitfire cross only a few hundred feet below a Ryanair 737.
yes, i still glide out of there beautiful setting never has been any danger when ive flown only to myself :D

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Saw the vintage pair accident at Mildenhall in 1986 - never a nice thing to witness.

On a slightly less morbid note I went on an organised trip to the French AF show at Chateaudun and French Navy show at Landivseau. It all started to go wrong when the ferry was 6 hours late leaving Portsmouth this made us very late to Caen and we got to the show at around 4pm but had to leave at 5pm to get to hotel which was a 5 hour drive away. Following day went to Landviseau and spent 7 hours huddled in a cold, wet hangar as the weather was awful, not even the birds were flying let along any aircraft. There were a few aircraft in the static display but main flight line was a fair distance away and not worth getting a soaking for.

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Wethersfield

yes, i still glide out of there beautiful setting never has been any danger when ive flown only to myself :D

Iv'e just been up to fix the wind damaged doors on my missu's stables not far off the end of Wethersfield runway,it's cold,windy,overcast and raining but someone is gliding,is it you?
Do you have any trouble with the Army Air Corps Lynx's,they were extremely active last week.

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Oh Yeah!

Oh yeah,
There was also that Aeromexico DC-9 that landed in my front yard in cerritos,ca. but I dont think that one counts.was most unpleasant.

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Iv'e just been up to fix the wind damaged doors on my missu's stables not far off the end of Wethersfield runway,it's cold,windy,overcast and raining but someone is gliding,is it you?
Do you have any trouble with the Army Air Corps Lynx's,they were extremely active last week.

The sadly deceased Steve Blomer, who used to farm Sparrows Hall up there, was a Transport Command York pilot. I think the alzheimers got him before the York at DX began to look like a York again, poor devil.
Just thought that might be of interest, as you are on a historic aviation forum...

Adrian