Saturday, 15 September 2007

One of the ‘Few’.

The middle of September usually brings with it one of the highlights of the Grendel household with the staging of the annual Royal Airforce Association Airshow at Shoreham Airport.

The theme for this year's event was the "50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight".

More often or not we will go the show but living only three miles or so to the east of the airport we often get to see many of the aircraft which overfly or fly close to where we live. In fact we seem to be at the outer edge of the circuit for many of the prop driven aircraft which means that we often get a good view of the Spits, Hurricanes and probably best of all the Lancaster from the BoB memorial flight which is regularly displayed at the event.

Having had a rather expensive couple of weeks and therefore not really able to afford to entrance fee for the tribe this year I put myself on light duties in the back garden this afternoon, listened to the Arsenal turning over the Tiny Totts on the radio and enjoyed the fly past.

And as ever it did not disappoint. Seven Spitfires, three Hurricanes, the Lancaster (and for balance 2 Bf108’s and a Bf109) hurtled around scaring the birds and exciting the children who were constantly asking which ones were the baddies. They’re a little young to discern the differences in engine sounds or readily recognise wing and fuselage shapes.

We watched until it seemed to be over and drifted inside. At about 17.00hrs I flicked on the radio again to catch up with the other footy scores only to hear that one of the Hurricanes had crashed during a mock dogfight and the pilot killed.

According to an eye witness (via the BBC) : "They were doing a mock dog fight and it looked like the plane was doing a dive, but it was going too fast and smashed straight into the ground."

Another noted that "Midway through the dogfight one of the planes, I'm not sure which one, literally, turned quite steeply, went into almost a straight dive and ploughed into a hill probably about a mile from the airfield."

Shortly after the crash two Spitfires carried out a flypast in the "man missing in action" formation. If I had been there, known what had happened and seen that, I suspect that I may have been quite emotional!

Although the pilot is as yet unnamed I primarily feel tremendous sadness for his / her family.

But I also feel sad that we have lost another tangible link to ‘Our Finest Hour’ as another craft, so many years after the battle, has joined its compatriots and fallen over the South Downs.

Although I wasn’t born for a full quarter century after the end of the war I get a genuine thrill watching and listening to our aircraft from the period. The spectacle of seven spitfires flying in formation (to my mind) is truly a wonder and a reminder of the debt that we still owe to those remaining who flew them in anger, of our obligation to keep the story alive and to understand the importance of what our Parents / Grandparents / Great grandparents were fighting for.

I was planning on doing a post about the Airshow but I never would have thought it would have been this one.

p.s Below, a few pictures from earlier in the afternoon taken in my garden – Another note to self , work out how zoom works!


Jeremy Jacobs said...

when did this accident happen?

Grendel said...

Evening Jeremy,

Yesterday, 15th September.


fake consultant said...

without trying to be an armchair safety investigator (well, maybe i am), the description that the aircraft "...turned quite steeply, went into almost a straight dive and ploughed into a hill probably about a mile from the airfield..." makes me wonder if a failure of control sufraces (stuck flap, for example) got him into and then left him unable to pull out of the dive.

of course, at "airshow" altitudes you get very little time to correct errors, and that may also have been a significant factor in the event.

most unfortunate, indeed.

sally in norfolk said...

very sad news...