Author Topic: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow  (Read 865 times)

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Offline Hardman

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Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« on: August 23, 2015, 12:23:01 PM »
What a terrible accident:

http://www.news.com.au/world/fatalities-as-single-seater-jet-crashes-at-uk-airshow/story-fndir2ev-1227494860437

It's very difficult to say just exactly went wrong, I'd not presume to speculate, way too many years since I flew a Hunter but the pilot, who survived the crash but is in a bad way is Andy Hill, don't know him personally but he is a friend of friends from the Harrier world and well known on the airshow circuit, by all accounts a very competent pilot.

I guess the report will figure it out but with another crash in the UK at an show earlier in the year of a Gnat and a relatively long history of there being incidents it may well be that airshow regulations will get tightened up again in the UK. TBH I'm not quite sure how much tighter they can get but you can bet there will be demands and controversy, airshows in the UK are very common and very popular, the second most popular spectator event in the country after soccer apparently.

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Offline Rybags

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 12:27:37 PM »
Outcast posted it @ the other joint - I had a quick look and commented.  Obviously the guy was trying for a stylized loop with the near stall at the top then get the thing as close to the ground as possible on the return.  I'm not sure on the responsiveness, wing loading or thrust ratio of these things but my guess would be it's not exactly the sort of plane you should be trying to emulate a Flanker with.

Quote
To put it simply I think he's just executed the loop way too low.  You can see he's almost at the point of stall at the top of it and it looks like he actually straightens out for a little bit on descent just to gain airspeed.  At the bottom, he's still not exactly travelling very fast and it looks like the angle of attack is somewhat more than the actual angle he's travelling.  Actually on second look, he's doomed several seconds earllier, he's pulled up at the last couple of seconds but it's barely made a difference.

Bottom line - he needed at least another couple of hundred feet safety margin and in any case should have been doing such a stunt over decent vacant paddock area, not near a road lined with spectators.

Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 01:11:50 PM »
Hmm,

The videos do make it out to be that way.

He wasn't really performing stunts over spectators though, he was crossing the road that is right alongside the airport, in the UK it's pretty difficult NOT to fly across roads anywhere that an airshow might be on.

I'm not sure what he was trying to do, everyone says a standard loop, if so he was way too low, the minimum altitude for any maneuvers is 500 feet, has been for years, but if he was planning a Cuban 8 or a slide and dip away or a twist off the top it would make more sense but that could imply he greyed out on the way up and lost his situational awareness.

One other factor that may have a bearing, some members of my family are in London today, the whole of Southern England is having a heat wave, well into the 30s C, that could have be a factor three ways, hot in the cockpit, density altitude and degraded engine performance.

The Hunter, never flown that training version, a T7, but they were all much the same, was a very nice aircraft to fly but like all the 50s era jets a bit light on thrust and could easily develop an outer wing stall at higher angles of attack, that's not really a problem unless you are down low, and he obviously was.

Not sure ever though with amateur video, apparently there was a professional video outfit recording the show so we'll probably get clearer footage later.

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Offline LordDread

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2015, 06:37:40 PM »
well listening to the video i saw, one witness said they heard nothing from the jet when it was sposed to pulling out, and looking at the video, it sure doesnt look like a jet under power pulling up, looks a lot more like something gliding with lowish speed, and nothing pushing it through the turn.

How the fuck he is still alive with the look of the angle it hit at though, is amazing in itself.

Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2015, 07:06:04 PM »
Hmm,

Could suggest he really was out to it - it is being suggested that he probably had 20 degrees of flap down for low speed maneuvering, memory says that was in the Hunter manual, but I did not fly them for long. Thing is in that configuration he could have come over the top unassisted into that dive and pullup, but way too low. The flap, which I am told is visible in some video, would also explain the late pull up, pure aerodynamics.

Hunters I can tell you LD, are/were rugged, but probably what happened was it split at the bulkhead which is sort of a Hawker/ Sr Sidney Camm thing, it was exactly the same on the Harrier and other designs I understand. That's a join behind the cockpit,  in a crash it has been seen to separate the frontal area including the cockpit from the hot and explosive stuff but no ides if that was Camm's intent or just for rigidity.

TBH if I were him I'm not sure I'd want to survive, but I'm very unconvinced it was his fault, still, seven people dead - damned dangerous world - anywhere...

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Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2015, 11:30:23 AM »
It must be pretty horrifying at the crash site, death toll is now up to 11 and the police are not ruling out finding more bodies.

What is amazing even if of no comfort to those affected is that this is the first time ever in the UK that people not involved in an air show as participants or spectators have been killed or injured and it is also the first case of fatalities to other than participants since the 50s. Those are according to knowledgeable aviation commentators but I think correct, the last case of spectators being killed was at Farnborough in 1952 when John Derry hit the hill in a DH110, the precursor to the Sea Vixen, 29 people died in that one and airshow display rules in the UK were markedly changed as a result.

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Offline LordDread

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2015, 05:50:56 PM »
yeah well since they shut down the motorways for a pebble on the road, they wont have a problem shutting them down around airshows.. which surely will be their kneejerk reaction to this :p

Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2015, 06:16:44 PM »
:)

 Not quite getting the reference LD but the UK is one dense area, you could drop the whole country into Spencer Gulf easy but it has a population well over twice of Oz and a very, very evolved road network.

 I dunno, airshows are a huge thing in the UK, I doubt they would or could shut them down, probably just tame the older stuff, a bit.

It is distressing that too many of the vintage and warbirds seem to be getting wiped out, there really have been a number.

As much as I like to see them in the air I am just as happy to see them in a museum but it seems the enthusiasts do not agree.

Never really flown a warbird, closest would be a Sabre I guess, was to put it mildly not very impressed but I'm a child of the second or even maybe third gen of jet fighters, which is not to say they were better, they were not, aerodynamically improved, clusterfuck in the cockpit.

The more I look at this tragedy the more I think the pilot was out of it at the top, but the investigation will, hopefully give some answers.

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Offline LordDread

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2015, 06:34:01 PM »
Hm thats a stab at how they will shutdown a km long stretch of road and reduce the speeed in 1 lane to a crawl just to remove a small piece of debris from the side of the road.. all of which usually takes 2-3 hrs to do apparently

Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2015, 12:32:26 AM »

hmm,

Not really getting the reference, but I can take little notice of events in my homeland sometimes :)

This - a lot more than a bit of debris...

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Offline Richo

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2015, 12:43:27 PM »
Looks to me like the pilot was aware to the end ... did a lateral adjustment with 2 seconds to go.

My money is on the motor conking out. No thrust on the bottom half of the loop.
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Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2015, 02:29:42 PM »
Hmm,

If that is the case they'll soon know, removing the remains of the aircraft today, damage to the turbine will be completely different if was not running at impact.

To clarify the maneuver he was performing was not a standard loop, it was a quarter clover, a loop with a 90 change of direction at the top, he ought to have had room because his flight plan allowed for every loop maneuver to end higher than the entry altitude, that's pretty standard at airshows unlike in competition aerobatics.

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Offline Rybags

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2015, 09:19:36 PM »
I don't think engine working or not would have made much difference though obviously you need reasonable airspeed for the control surfaces to work properly.

A huge problem with that video on the linked story - in the critical couple of seconds where he's at the point of maybe being able to salvage the whole thing the camera loses view. 

There's another video from close by at ground level, sort of hard to tell but it does sound like a live engine just before impact:


Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2015, 09:43:34 AM »
Hmm,

Very hard to know. I've been reminded that the Hunter like most early generation fighters had some foibles, one of them was the engine not being very happy to have rapid changes of throttle settings, it could lose most all power for several seconds, could have a bearing.

One thing is pretty certain, the aircraft was almost completely stalled at the last few moments of flight.

That must have been a horrifying helpless feeling.

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Offline Smokey

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2015, 10:28:31 AM »
Sad really, I saw a wirraway stall and slam onto the tarmac at an Nowra Albatross air show. In that case it was the strong head wind and an under powered air craft.
He turned from heading into the wind, painfully slow,  to the wind at his six. Instant stall.

This one does look to me the jet wasn't at the throttle required.

Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2015, 10:36:48 AM »
There have been some similar suggestions actually Smokey.

I don't know the airfield at all but apparently it has a bit of a reputation for nasty downdrafts.

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Offline Hardman

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Re: Hawker Hunter crash at UK airshow
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2015, 07:06:04 PM »
Air accidents rather rarely have a single cause, the pundits say they happen when the holes in the Swiss cheese line up, sure seems to be the case here.

Until the pilot can give his side it remains a case of a miscalculation on his part, but I'm really not very convinced of that, what has been ruled out is any engine failure or other airframe issue, they have a video of the cockpit instruments to confirm everything was running fine.

After looking at it because some family were there and a bit traumatised I'm really wondering who the hell approved a fast jet display at that location. It's not an airport I know, but the surrounding geography is just not nice for anything low level especially on a hot and humid day, which it was. The winds would have been fickle, the sight lines are way less than ideal, I'd be passing on it, apparently the Red Arrows will not display there.

I do hope it does not destroy airshows in the UK but maybe it was a wake-up that cost a lot of lives, old airplanes can always be paraded in relative safety but aerobatics are really best left to younger airframes.

Y'know, I'm 63, I flew a Hunter last 43 years ago and it was pretty worn, would you trust a car that age to chuck around a circuit ?

Statistics are usually lies but damn a lot of warbirds seem to be getting wiped out.

Um, yes, the Hunter did go to war a few times, Jordan loved them :)

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