Reflections on airshow crash

The UK’s worst airshow crash happened on Saturday, September 6, 1952 at the Farnborough Air Display.

As a 13-year-old schoolboy, I attended the event with my father on one of the trade days earlier in the week, and was fortunate to see successful displays by a number of now-iconic aircraft which were new to the skies at that time, including many prototypes.

On the Saturday, when the general public were able to buy tickets, a close school-mate of mine (I’m still in frequent contact with him over 60 years later) attended with his parents.

Test pilot John Derry had been displaying at or near the speed of sound – the prototype DeHavilland DH 110, when it broke up and fell largely into the crowd, killing 39 people and injuring many more.

My friend and his parents were lucky to escape unscathed.

Immediately afterwards, airshow regulations were greatly tightened and have been meticulously reviewed ever since.

It will be interesting to learn in due course whether all these rules were followed at Shoreham...I have no reason to suppose that they were not.

By an eerie coincidence, the first aircraft to take off at Shoreham after the crash was the Sea Vixen, the final development of the DH110.

Michael Foster

Old Manor Close


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