Shoreham Airshow crash trial hears from eyewitnesses who narrowly escaped with their lives

Pilot Andy Hill was flying a Hawker Hunter jet when it tragically crashed at the airshow in 2015. Picture: Getty
Pilot Andy Hill was flying a Hawker Hunter jet when it tragically crashed at the airshow in 2015. Picture: Getty

A driver had to leap out of his car when he was caught up in the Shoreham Airshow crash tragedy, a court has heard.

The trial of pilot Andy Hill has been hearing this morning from eyewitnesses who witnessed the disaster in August, 2015.

The crash took the lives of 11 men

The crash took the lives of 11 men

Hill, 54, of Standon Road, Buntingford, was attempting a loop stunt in a Hawker Hunter jet at the airshow when he crashed onto the A27. Eleven men died in the tragedy.

Hill faces 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence in relation to the crash. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The prosecution say that Hill was in full control of the aircraft and ‘pilot error’ led to the deaths of 11 men.

However defence barrister Karim Khalil QC has argued that Hill was not in control of the aircraft during the fateful 'bent loop' manoeuvre.

The effects of the tragedy are still felt in the community today

The effects of the tragedy are still felt in the community today

Software engineer Thomas Milburn was sitting on grass near the A27 when he first saw the Hawker Hunter.

In his statement, read out in court, he said: “I saw the Hunter in flight and took some pictures of it in the air.

“The next time I saw the Hunter it was flying very low. I would have said the aircraft was only about five metres above the road.”

Mr Milburn said he saw the crash and was afraid the plane was going to hit him.

He said: “I really thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to be consumed by burning fuel. I realised that I had been engulfed by a fireball.”

He was eventually able to get up and received medical attention, the court heard.

Mr Milburn was treated for burns at Worthing Hospital, and later at East Grinstead.

READ MORE: 'No evidence' that aircraft fault contributed to Shoreham airshow crash

The jury also heard a statement from Peter Reed, who was driving along the A27 at the time of the disaster.

He said: “I heard a massive bang coming from behind me. The car was engulfed in flames. I had the strong impression at this point that my vehicle was on fire and was going to explode.”

Mr Reed said he opened his car door and leaped out. His car continued down the road before veering off, the court heard.

When he got up he said there was a ‘thick, black plume of smoke hanging in the air’.

Mr Reed did not immediately realise what had happened, only finding out that a plane had crashed some time later, the court heard.

Andy Hill denies all charges. The trial continues.

MORE FROM THE TRIAL: Shoreham airshow crash pilot was 1,000 feet too low for loop-the-loop, prosecutors say