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Shoreham Airshow pilot Andrew Hill had ‘very limited’ experience in crash plane | UK News

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The pilot of a plane which crashed during the Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 people, has told a court his experience of flying the aircraft was “very limited”.

Andrew Hill was at the controls of a 1950s Hawker Hunter fighter jet when it plunged to the ground on 22 August 2015.

The aircraft exploded in a fireball on the A27 in West Sussex, killing 11 men.

He has been speaking in public for the first time about the crash as he continues to give evidence at his Old Bailey trial.

The court has so far heard Hill had a lengthy career in aviation and was an experienced military, commercial and display pilot who had flown aircrafts including a Jet Provost and a Harrier as well as the Hunter.

When asked about the amount of time he had spent flying the Hunter fighter jet, he replied that it was around 35 hours.

The court heard this was mostly at a handful of displays since 2011.

Asked by prosecutor Tom Kark QC if he accepted his experience in this respect was “relatively limited”, Hill responded, saying in comparison to others it was “very limited”.

Hill – who has been described as a normally “careful and competent” pilot – also agreed he had a duty of care to spectators, of which there were some 20,000-30,000 at Shoreham on the day of the crash.

The pilot also told the court he cannot remember the tragedy.

The 54-year-old told jurors he could not recall anything past 19 August until the moment he woke up in hospital from an induced coma.

Cars were travelling below the plane before it crashed
Image:
Cars were travelling below the plane before it crashed

He said he had spent the last three-and-a-half years trying to piece together what happened.

Karim Khalil QC, defending, asked Hill: “Has that been easy for you?”

He responded: “No, because it caused a dreadful tragedy to those people….I was the pilot I was in charge of the aircraft.”

A statement made by Hill in 2017 was also read to the court by his defence barrister.

It said: “Eleven people died and 12 others were injured during the course…this is a matter I have to face every day I wake up – those people lost their lives as a direct result of an accident I was involved in.”

The defence asked: “Have you continued with those sentiments today?”

Hill replied: “Yes, it’s the dominant thought of my life”.

Hill, from Sandon in Hertfordshire, said he recognised from analysing footage of the crash that there had been “more than one” opportunity to adjust the flight path.

“I don’t know what I did,” he told the court.

When describing the aircraft seen in video footage, he said: “It continued to turn beyond where any sensible person would have planned it.”

When asked “does it make any sense?” Hill replied “none at all”.

“Up to point X everything looked good – after point X and after I just do not understand,” he said.

A transcript of Hill’s comments to a paramedic in the aftermath of the crash were also read out to the court.

Paramedic: “How are you feeling, Andy?”

Hill: “Terrible”.

Paramedic: “What happened?

Hill: “I don’t know”.

Paramedic: “Did you feel unwell before you crashed?”

Hill: “Yes.”

Paramedic: “Did you have any chest pains before you crashed?”

Hill: “Yes I did”.

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The tragedy happened at the Shoreham Airshow in August 2015

Earlier the court heard how Mr Hill had felt “embarrassed” after making a mistake in an airshow a year before the Shoreham crash.

At a display in Southport in Merseyside in 2014, he had flown too close to the crowds before turning his plane round and ending the display.

The display had been halted by organisers as a result but Mr Hill flew the following day and said it went well.

The prosecution also accused Mr Hill of another breach in procedure at the Shoreham Airshow in 2014.

The Old Bailey was told he flew over Lancing College, near the airport, despite it being a restricted area.

Mr Hill denied this had happened and pointed out in his analysis of cockpit footage shown in court that he had not flown over it.

The pilot was attempting a loop at the Shoreham Airshow in 2015 when the aircraft crashed.

He denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

The trial continues.

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