LONDON | The pilot of a jet that crashed at the Shoreham Airshow in 2015, killing 11 people, has told a court today that he has no memory of the accident.
Andy Hill, 54, says he cannot remember anything that happened from three days before the crash up until when he woke from a coma weeks later. “Most of the last three years have been spent trying to resolve what happened,” he said.
The crash occurred when Mr Hill performed a “bent loop” manoeuvre at the Shoreham Airshow on the 22nd August 2015. His jet then crashed onto the busy A27. Prosecutor Tom Kark QC says that the jet was up to 1,000 feet too low to complete the manoeuvre when it reached the top of its loop.
In January, Mr Kark told thee court that experienced Hawker Hunter display pilot Jonathan Whaley reviewed cockpit footage of the crash shown to the court. He described Mr Hill’s decision to continue the manoeuvre as a “cardinal sin”.
Today, Mr Hill said: “I don’t accept I was doing a loop,” adding that it “doesn’t fit into a classic manoeuvre.”
Mr Hill took to the witness box for the first time yesterday, denying accusations that he had a “cavalier” attitude to safety.
The Prosecution say that Mr Hill was a “known risk-taker”. Mr Kark told the court that he had been issued a “stop, stop, stop” call at the Southport Airshow one year before the crash at Shoreham for performing a “dangerous manoeuvre” that took him “far too close to the crowd”.
Mr Hill said today that he had a “nasty dawning moment” when he realised his plane was heading for the crowd and aborted his display as soon as possible, before he was told to by ground controllers.
Mr Hill also denied accusations that he had been reprimanded for flouting regulations during a practice display at Duxford and overflew Lancing College the Shoreham Airshow, both also in 2014.
The Prosecution have said that “serious negligence” was to blame for the accident, but Karim Khalil QC, defending, said that the G-forces acting on the aircraft meant that Mr Hill was “unable to properly and fully control the aircraft”. He argued that the alleged errors were too numerous for a pilot of Mr Hill’s experience to have made unless he was suffering “cognitive impairment”.
Giving evidence, the chairman of the show’s Flying Control Committee, Derek Davis, said last month that he realised something was wrong as the aircraft descended from the manoeuvre. “I thought the aircraft on the descent was not being controlled,” he said.
Mr Davis added that the way the jet was flying indicated that there was something wrong either with the aircraft or its pilot.
The trial will determine whether Mr Hill was “at fault” for the accident or whether he was disabled by G-force at the time of the crash. It began on Wednesday 16th January at the Old Bailey and is expected to last up to continue into next month.