Death and fireball horror for travellers on my regular Sussex weekend drive.

A lot of people here in Sussex feel shaken by the horrific air-crash on the A27 road at Shoreham yesterday. So far the police have confirmed seven deaths after a plane attempting a loop at the annual Shoreham Airshow crashed into Saturday afternoon traffic on the busy road between Brighton and Worthing.


Horrible accidents happen every day all over the world but when they happen in such familiar surroundings, the reality of such things quite literally strikes home. This is the route I often take at weekends when driving from my home in Lewes to visit my mother in Worthing. I imagine that some of those killed yesterday were about just such a trip on a beautiful summer’s afternoon.


We decided not to go this weekend because of the expected traffic build up around the Shoreham Air Show where you can often see the planes flying over head as you drive past. Instead of driving into that accident, I was sitting in my garden at home.


The pilot of a vintage Hawker Hunter was opening the afternoon session at the show with a loop which went very wrong ending with the plane coming too low and then struggling to avoid the trees lining the busy A27 road.

Former RAF pilot, Andy Hill, was seen at close quarters as he tried to gain height but he was now much too low.

The plane crashed into the side of the road creating an enormous fireball which resulted in the multiple deaths on the road. Extraordinarily the pilot wasn’t killed and was rescued from the crash site and taken to hospital in Brighton where he is reported as being critically ill. The police say other bodies may still be found.

The whole event was watched by hundreds of spectators at the Shoreham Airfield and, of course, by hundreds more from their cars driving along the A27.

One of my sons rang telling me about this horrifying incident as he was worried that we mighty have been driving there at the time. He reminded me that when he was young I’d said we wouldn’t go to an airshow because I’d told him that they were too dangerous. ¬†That may well have been over-cautious on my part but I do wonder about the wisdom of having risky aircraft gymnastics next to a busy major road

One eye-witness said that there could have been even more traffic in the area of impact if the traffic lights hadn’t just changed to red.

When the smoke cleared it became evident just how devastating the crash had been.

My sympathies are with those who have lost friends and family and for all those who were injured or shocked by this terrible event. Hopefully, action will be taken to prevent similar incidents here in the future. I know that I’m not alone today feeling lucky but also oddly guilty about not making that journey yesterday.


  1. This is a really good blog to read and thank you for sharing. Its good to read something factual, local and genuine. There is so much out there in terms of coverage.
    We were caught up in the traffic on the Shoreham roundabout yesterday just after the accident and feeling exceptionally lucky that we were running late – that could have been us. Terribly tragic incident and, as you say, the logistics of running a show like this so close to a very busy road and populated area may need to be considered given the increasing regularity of air show crashes we are a sadly seeing. A very sad day from what should have been a lovely day out for people.

  2. Thank you for a really good comment on this tragedy, Colin. Years ago I worked with a lady whose husband had been kinned in a similar incident at Farnborough. Today I have just heard that one of those killed at Shoreham yesterday was Matthew, nephew and Godson of one of my former adult lady choristers. One of our congregation at Chapel Royal was there yesterday, watching the air show, and is severely traumatised today. Accidents have always happened in all areas of life nd always will; we take risks in everything we do from and before the moment we get out of bed each morning but some, perhaps, are more avoidable than others.

    Whenever we are spared from being involved in a disaster it is a moment to appreciate even more that each one of us is part of a grand plan and that each of us has a predetermined part to play in it. We just need to pray and give thanks each time we are spared.

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