Display pilot's incredible escape from World War Two fighter as he bails out after mid-air collision at airshow

Monday, July 11, 2011


Airshow crash: Pilot Rob Davies parachutes to safety after the P-51D Mustang collided with another plane during a Flying Legends Display show at RAF Duxford yesterday

A pilot had a miracle escape yesterday when he bailed out of his Second World War plane after a mid-air collision at an airshow.

Thousands of people watched as the P-51 Mustang plane clipped wings at the annual display show and plummeted to the ground south-west of RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire, yesterday.

Pilot Rob Davies parachuted to safety following the mid-air accident at the Flying Legends show which happened after three planes had formed a triangle in the sky.

The other plane involved in the accident - a Douglas A-1 Skyraider - was able to land safely despite suffering wing damage.

Mark Brown, a pilot from Warminster who witnessed the crash, told CambridgeFirst how the second aircraft, a Skyraider, lost a 'large chunk of its wing tip' which fell to the ground.

He said the crash happened as three planes peeled left after forming a triangle.

Missing a wing, the P51-D Mustang crashes into the ground, as the French-owned Skyraider that it crashed into flies on before later landing safely. It had suffered only minor wing damage

How did that happen? Scratching his head, the pilot of the Skyraider inspects the damage after landing safely. Rob Davies, pilot of the other plane, parachuted to safety

Three planes fly in a triangular formation close to RAF Duxford seconds before two of them collided in midair

Others described seeing 'large chunks of metal' fall to the ground before one entered a dive and hit the ground behind some trees.

One eyewitness said: 'Several vintage planes were flying together in formation when one seemed to fall out of the sky. It seemed to be missing a bit of its wing. People thought two planes might have touched wings. We could see blue lights going to the end of the runway. The word was that the pilot had ejected and was OK.'

A spokesman for the show's organisers, Imperial War Museum Duxford, said: 'The pilots of both aircraft are safe and have been treated by the Ambulance Service.

'The cause of the incident will now be investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and the museum is therefore not able to comment on the likely cause.'

The Classic U.S. fighter plane suffered wing-damage after colliding in mid-air with another plane yesterday during an air display

The three Spanish Messerschmidt-style fighters fly in formation

On its website, the museum said there would be three Skyraiders displaying at Flying Legends in a 'rare air show appearance'. A spokesman for the AAIB said: 'The Air Accident Investigation Branch is aware of the incident and are sending a team to investigate'.

The Flying Legends airshow at the aerodrome, home of the Imperial War Museum Duxford, featured Spitfires flying together with 'Buchon' Messerschmitt-style fighters for the first time since the making of the famous 1968 movie Battle Of Britain.

Duxford Aerodrome played a vital role in the defending British shores from marauding German bombers during the Battle of Britain. On average 60 Spitfires and Hurricanes were dispersed around Duxford and RAF Fowlmere every day.

It's location, close to Luftwaffe targets in north London, made it a vital base for fighter units scrambling to intercept German bombers crossing from the European mainland.

Downed: This is the P-51 Mustang, dubbed Big Beautifull Doll, which crashed after colliding with a Skyraider at the end of the airshow

Crash: Mustang plane Big Beautiful Doll (right) crashed after a mid-air collision with a AD4N Skyraider US Navy RM-24143

After the establishment of air superiority over the British Isles, Duxford became the home of several specialist units, including the Air Fighting Development Unit which helped to develop the devastating Hawker Typhoon ground attack aircraft.

Today, the aerodrome is one of the Imperial War Museum's five sites across the country, where exhibits too large for its London headquarters are stored, restored and displayed. Over the weekend, more than 55 aircraft participated in the war plane displays, which were jointly organised with the Fighter Collection.

It was the first time the Hispano AviaciĆ³n HA-1112 M1L 'Buchon' single-engined fighters had flown alongside Spitfires since the filming of the famous Battle of Britain movie, scenes of which were filmed in the skies over Duxford.

A Spanish version of the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Buchons were altered to look more like German Messerschmitts for the film, with mock machine guns and cannon added.

Accident: The AD4N Skyraider US Navy RM-24143 was also damaged after the mid-air collision, and both pilots were lucky to be alive

From left: Eight World War Two Spitfires, one Hurricane and Spanish Buchon fighter aircraft in Luftwaffe colours form up for a flypass at Flying Legends Airshow at Duxford Aerodrome

source: dailymail

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