Shoreham air crash pilot 'flew too low' at Southport airshow

Andy Hill Image copyright Zak Hussein
Image caption Pilot Andy Hill was interviewed by Sussex Police in December

More details have emerged about a flying incident involving pilot Andy Hill at an airshow a year before the Shoreham crash in which 11 people died.

Southport Airshow said the Jet Provost T5 the BBC has established was piloted by Mr Hill was seen too close to crowds and below the height set for the event.

On Tuesday, Sussex Police revealed the 2014 Southport incident was part of its "wider investigation".

Andy Hill was flying a Hawker Hunter in August when it plummeted on to the A27.

'Stop call'

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eleven people died after the vintage jet plummeted on to the A27

Southport Airshow flying director Dave Walton said: "A stop call was immediately issued by the flying display director on the display radio frequency and the flying display was terminated.

"The pilot was debriefed, initially on the telephone and later in person and agreed to amend his display for the Sunday display.

"The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) had an ops inspector at the air show who did not witness the event in person but was briefed on the course of events and the actions taken during the Saturday display, and also on the course of action decided upon by the FDD (flying display director) and FCC (flying control committee) for the Sunday display."

The BBC has not been able to speak to Mr Hill, but an expert has said there was never any immediate danger and the event was never "life threatening".

George Bacon, from the British Air Display Association, said it was an "occurrence" not an "incident" - less serious in effect - and Mr Hill was always in control of the aircraft.

He also stressed the point that this kind of transgression could happen to any pilot and for all sorts of reasons - sun in the eyes, moving to avoid a bird or another aircraft, or a strong wind.

'In control'

Mr Walton said there was no "other action officially required" but the event was discussed with aircraft operator at a later date.

George Bacon, who commentated on the display, told BBC North West Tonight: "My initial view was that it didn't seem to be initially dangerous. It seemed to be very much in control.

"There was a CAA flight inspector present at the airshow. I know they had a discussion and a report was made to the main CAA office."

Sussex Police said the incident at the Southport Airshow in September 2014 formed a "line of inquiry in our wider investigation".

The CAA said it took appropriate action at the time and continued to support the police and AAIB with their investigations.

Mr Hill, a former RAF pilot from Sandon, near Buntingford in Hertfordshire, was initially placed in a medically-induced coma following the Shoreham crash. He was interviewed by Sussex Police in December.

The victims:

Image copyright BBC/Sussex Police/Facebook
Image caption (Top row, left to right) Matt Jones, Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, Maurice Abrahams, Richard Smith. (Bottom row, left to right) Mark Reeves, Tony Brightwell, Mark Trussler, Daniele Polito, Dylan Archer, Graham Mallinson
  • Matt Jones, a 24-year-old personal trainer
  • Matthew Grimstone, 23, a Worthing United footballer who worked as a groundsman at Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Jacob Schilt, also 23 and also a Worthing United player, was travelling to a match with Mr Grimstone
  • Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton, was a chauffeur on his way to pick up a bride on her wedding day
  • Friends Richard Smith, 26, and Dylan Archer, 42, who were going for a bike ride on the South Downs
  • Mark Reeves, 53, had ridden his motorcycle to the perimeter of Shoreham Airport to take photos of the planes
  • Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove was an aircraft enthusiast and had learnt to fly at Shoreham airfield
  • Mark Trussler, 54, is thought to have been riding his motorcycle on the A27
  • Daniele Polito, 23, was travelling in the same car as Mr Jones
  • Graham Mallinson, 72, from Newick, was a keen photographer and retired engineer

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