The Hawker Hunter fighter jet, which was participating in the Shoreham Airshow near Brighton in southern England, hit several vehicles on a nearby road as it crashed Saturday afternoon. Witnesses told local TV that the jet appeared to have crashed when it failed to pull out of a loop maneuver.
West Sussex Police said seven died at the scene and one patient with life-threatening injuries was taken to the hospital. A further 14 people were treated for minor injuries.
News video and photographs showed a fireball erupting near trees and huge plumes of thick black smoke rising. A witness, Stephen Jones, told the BBC that the pilot had just begun his display.
“He’d gone up into a loop and as he was coming out of the loop I just thought, you’re too low, you’re too low, pull up. And he flew straight into the ground either on or very close to the A27, which runs past the airport,” Jones said.
The force said all the casualties were believed to have occurred on the road, and no one on the airfield was believed injured. It was not yet known whether the jet pilot was able to eject or not.
The road was closed in both directions Saturday.
Crashes at British airshows are rare, but in 2007 the pilot of a World War II Hurricane died at the Shoreham Airshow after performing an unplanned barrel-roll.