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Shocking footage shows the seconds before the Shoreham air crash

Locked in a fatal dive, the jet in the Shoreham Airshow tragedy roars just feet above a busy road before impact.

A split second later, the vintage Hawker Hunter was a fireball as it slammed into traffic, killing 11 men.

The dramatic footage, shot by spectators, was shown to a jury yesterday as pilot Andy Hill faced charges of manslaughter by gross negligence. 

Hill was performing a loop-the-loop stunt in the 1950s jet that was said to be 1,000 feet too low and too slow.

But, unable to pull out of a dive, it screams low above the road before crashing into three vehicles on the busy A27 in West Sussex. 

Relatives of the victims watched quietly yesterday as footage shot from a number of perspectives were shown to the OId Bailey. 

The jet is pictured seconds before it crashed into the dual carriageway in West Sussex, killing 11 people at the Shoreham Air Show in 2015 

Mr Hill is claiming to have suffered a 'cognitive impairment' when he was flying the Hawker Hunter (pictured, ascending to perform the stunt)

Mr Hill is claiming to have suffered a 'cognitive impairment' when he was flying the Hawker Hunter (pictured, durcing its descent

Mr Hill is claiming to have suffered a ‘cognitive impairment’ when he was flying the Hawker Hunter (pictured, left, ascending to perform the stunt and, right, descending) 

Tom Kark QC, prosecuting, previously told the court the crash was ‘purely’ because of ‘pilot error’ after the aircraft was flown too low and too slow before he attempted a loop.

Although normally a careful and competent pilot, the court heard of some past incidents where he had played ‘fast and loose’ with the rules and appeared to have a ‘cavalier attitude’ towards safety.

Mr Hill (pictured arriving at the Old Bailey yesterday) has denied manslaughter following the disaster 

Mr Hill (pictured arriving at the Old Bailey yesterday) has denied manslaughter following the disaster 

After showing the footage, Mr Kark told jurors there was a ‘catalogue of errors’ on Hill’s part, including that he failed to take evasive action to carry out an escape manoeuvre.

Jurors were also shown footage shot by spectators at the side of the road which shows the plane in the sky performing the stunt and crashing into the main road, engulfing victims who were in cars standing nearby.

Hill, of Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, watched the beginning of the footage but lowered his head in the dock when the moment of impact was shown before looking at the jury.

Immediately after the crash he told emergency services he did not remember or know what happened but felt ‘terrible’ and had been feeling unwell, the court heard.

Mr Kark said: ‘The aircraft crashed as a result of Mr Hill’s negligence and as such this breach of duty caused the deaths of 11 men.

‘Having regard to the serious and obvious risk of death, the negligence of Mr Hill was truly exceptionally bad such as to amount to the criminal offence of gross negligence manslaughter.’

He said exposure to G force was ‘routine’ for any experienced pilot and that cognitive impairment was different to the temporary effects of G force, adding: ‘If a pilot continued to fly an aerobatic display above a crowd of spectators, knowing that he was unwell, then that, we would suggest, would be capable of amounting to a gross breach of his duty of care.’

Prosecutors told the jury that the pilot (inset) was too low and too slow at the point of take-off into the loop on Wednesday, as illustrated in this graphic

Prosecutors told the jury that the pilot (inset) was too low and too slow at the point of take-off into the loop on Wednesday, as illustrated in this graphic

The jet can be seen descending over the dual carriageway, which it would crash into seconds later, killing 11 people and sending a ball of flames into the air

The jet can be seen descending over the dual carriageway, which it would crash into seconds later, killing 11 people and sending a ball of flames into the air

Some 11 men were killed in the disaster which happened at 1.22pm on August 22 2015 (pictured: plumes of smoke rise in Shoreham)

Some 11 men were killed in the disaster which happened at 1.22pm on August 22 2015 (pictured: plumes of smoke rise in Shoreham)

Mr Kark told how Hill had ‘miraculously’ survived the killer crash, saying: ‘Mr Hill, in the cockpit of the aircraft was of course sitting at the front of what was in effect a very large jet.

‘It appears that the cockpit carried on travelling and the destruction caused by the crash was mostly behind him.

‘His seat was thrown clear of the cockpit after impact and just before the aircraft came to rest. When initial responders arrived, they found Mr Hill a few feet away from the cockpit and out of his seat which was partially trapped beneath the cockpit.

‘It is believed that his ejector seat partially activated due to impact forces and he was separated from his seat as part of the seat design.

‘Although Mr Hill had a handle which he could pull to eject himself from the aircraft, it could not be used as low height and the ejection sequence was not instigated by Mr Hill. There is no evidence that Mr Hill pulled the ejection handle.’

Horrified witnesses at the Shoreham air show disaster ran for their lives and saw people ‘disappear’ from right next to them, jurors heard.

Others reported that the plane was flying too low before it crashed and burst into flames on the A27, a court heard.

Flames burst from behind the trees following the crash at the Shoreham Air Show in 2015 (pictured) as the pilot failed to execute his loop 

Flames burst from behind the trees following the crash at the Shoreham Air Show in 2015 (pictured) as the pilot failed to execute his loop 

Mr Hill had been performing a ‘bent loop’ stunt at the popular air show when the crash happened. It was said he did not reach the required height but continued with the stunt anyway.

The Old Bailey also heard that he flew dangerously in an air show just a year before the tragedy going dangerously close to the crowd.

The aircraft at Shoreham was about 1,000 feet short of the height necessary to reach to perform the bent loop, it was said. 

David Milnes, an experienced Shoreham air show attender, watched as the wreckage hurtled towards him.

Mr Kark said: ‘He planned to watch the air show from the A27 road. When he got there, he noticed some people standing near the traffic lights.

‘He watched the Hunter and was concerned at how slowly it appeared to be flying while attempting to loop. He had noted that unusually the Hunter appeared to have begun its loop closer to the road than the runway.

‘He watched as the aircraft descended down onto the road and exploded. He heard a bang and started running as fast as he could away from the crash, aware that the wreckage would be coming his way.

‘He felt an enormous heat and fell to the floor. People that he had been standing next to had simply disappeared and the motorbikes he had noticed earlier were now just burning wreckage.’ 

But Karim Kahlil, defending, told jurors criticisms made of Hill – a Royal Air Force instructor and British Airways commercial captain – were ‘either wrong or misplaced.’

He said Hill had no memory of the crash and ‘may have been suffering cognitive impairment’, adding: ‘He was subjected to the increasing forces of gravity.’

Mr Hill's Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the A27, killing 11 people, in August 2015. He is currently on trial at the Old Bailey

Mr Hill’s Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the A27, killing 11 people, in August 2015. He is currently on trial at the Old Bailey

The court heard he was left with serious, life-threatening injuries and that his life was saved by being thrown from the plane after which he was placed in a medically induced coma.

He said it would be a ‘remarkable pilot indeed’ who had never made an error and that Hill responded to making any mistake in a ‘respectful’ manner and was keen to ensure it did not happen again.

Mr Kahlil said: ‘Pilot error does not explain what happened here at all,’ adding: ‘He is not a cavalier pilot and not a pilot who, as is suggested, plays fast and loose [with the rules]. Quite the contrary. He did not deliberately fail to take evasive action.’

The victims are Maurice Abrahams, 76; Dylan Archer, 42; Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone, 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Daniele Polito, 23; Mark Reeves, 53; Jacob Schilt, 23; Richard Smith, 26; and Mark Trussler, 54, who all lived in Sussex.

Hill was also originally charged with one count of recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft under air navigation laws but this was dropped before the trial began, the CPS confirmed. The trial, expected to last eight weeks, continues.

Who were the 11 victims of the 2015 Shoreham air disaster?

Maurice Abrahams, 76:

Chauffeur Mr Abrahams, from Brighton, was en route in his classic Daimler to collect bride Rebecca Sheen and take her to her wedding when the plane crashed.

A former police officer with Hampshire Constabulary, he was an ex-member of the Grenadier Guards and Parachute Regiment, and had served in Cyprus and Bahrain with the UN.

In his later years, he enjoyed working for East Sussex-based Chariots Chauffeurs as well as gardening.

His funeral was held at St Margaret’s Church in Rottingdean, where he had driven brides to their weddings countless times.

Married to Edwina, Mr Abrahams had a son, Eddie, and daughter Lizzie.

James Graham Mallinson, known as Graham, 72:

Retired engineer Mr Mallinson, from Newick, near Lewes, had gone to Shoreham to photograph one of the last Vulcan bomber flights.

Relatives said he was kind and generous with a ‘great sense of humour’. 

He was a private and loving family man, they added.

A lifetime member of the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex, married father Mr Mallinson had recently developed an interest in photographing vintage aircraft.

Former police officer Maurice Abrahams was a chauffeur who was killed while on his way to a job (left). Retired engineer Mr Mallinson, from Newick, near Lewes, had gone to Shoreham to photograph one of the last Vulcan bomber flights

Father-of-six Mr Trussler, a window cleaner from Worthing, had taken his motorbike for a spin on the day of the tragedy

Father-of-six Mr Trussler, a window cleaner from Worthing, had taken his motorbike for a spin on the day of the tragedy

Mark Trussler, 54:

Father-of-six Mr Trussler, a window cleaner from Worthing, had taken his motorbike for a spin on the day of the tragedy as he had also wanted to see the Vulcan flight.

While in Shoreham, he texted his fiancee Giovanna Chirico telling her to get the children ready so they could take them out for lunch on his return home.

She told him she loved him and his last words to her were, ‘I love you too, forever’.

A motorbike and rugby fan, he was also described as a doting father.

 Tony Brightwell, 53:

Health care manager Mr Brightwell, from Hove, was indulging his twin passions of planes and cycling when tragedy struck.

His fiancee Lara watched him cycle off to watch one of the last Vulcan bomber flights, ‘but he never came home’, she said.

Mr Brightwell gained his private pilot licence at Shoreham, loved food and cooking, and admired Second World War pilots.

Dylan Archer, 42, and Richard Smith, 26:

IT consultant Mr Archer, a father of two who lived in Brighton, and Mr Smith, who lived in Hove, were due to meet up with a third friend to head out for a cycle ride in the South Downs.

Mr Archer, who grew up in the Midlands, had a lifelong passion for bikes and cars, and rode the bike he made himself on the day he died.

Dylan Archer

Richard Smith

Dylan Archer and Richard Smith were due to meet up with a third friend to go on a cycle ride when they were killed in the Shoreham tragedy 

After going to university in Birmingham, Buckinghamshire-raised Mr Smith worked in a bicycle shop in Cosham, Portsmouth.

He later moved to Hove where he worked in marketing and web development at ActSmart, a firm that specialises in providing advice to the cycle industry.  

Mark Reeves, 53:

Computer-aided design technician Mr Reeves, from Seaford, near Eastbourne, had parked his motorbike to take photographs of planes when the crash happened.

A grandfather, relatives described him as a ‘sun worshipper’ who would often be seen relaxing with a cocktail in hand on holiday.

His family said he was combining two favourite hobbies of riding his cherished Honda bike to take photographs at the air show.

Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23:

The two Worthing United footballers were travelling together in a car to a 3pm home game against Loxwood FC when they were caught up in the crash.

Mr Grimstone’s parents Sue and Phil and brothers David and Paul called him the ‘kindest person you could ever meet’.

Team-mates said Mr Schilt was a ‘tenacious midfielder’ with an eye for a goal.

Mr Grimstone had also worked at Brighton & Hove Albion for seven years, most recently as a groundsman at the Lancing training ground.

Matthew Grimstone

Jacob Schilt

Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, were travelling to Worthing United to play in a home game against Loxwood FC when they were caught up in the crash

Matt Jones, 24, and Daniele Polito, 23:

Father Daniele Polito, from Worthing, was travelling in the same car as personal trainer Matt Jones when tragedy struck.

Mr Polito’s mother Leslye Polito said on the first anniversary of the disaster that the previous 12 months had failed to ease her loss. 

A keen DJ, Mr Jones had reportedly recently returned to the UK from living in Australia.

Matt Jones and Daniele Polito both died in the same car  

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