A HURRICANE aeroplane crashed into the Downs during what should have been the highlight of this year's Shoreham Air Show.
Pilot Brian Brown was killed in the accident, which happened at around 3.20pm on Saturday, September 15.
Eyewitness Dan Thompson said:"There was a moment of disbelief when people didn't realise what had happened. Then there was absolute silence."
The plane had been taking part in a simulated World War Two airfield attack with several other aircraft attack.
The view of the crash from the airport was shielded by the Downs, although a huge plume of smoke was visible for miles around (pictured).
Mr Thompson said the plane had been flying level, adding there had been no reports from other eyewitnesses to say the plane looked damaged before it crashed.
The mock attack was abandoned as soon as it became apparent what had happened.
Pilots of the Spitfire planes flew in a missing pilot formation, as they would have done during the Battle of Britain.
No one else was thought to have been hurt in the accident, which happened away from Shoreham Airport on land near Lancing College.
Air show commentator and display director Peter Eager announced the show would continue as close to the programme as possible, adding it would have been what the pilot concerned would have wanted, and the show went ahead on Sunday.
Sussex Police issued the following statement: "At 3.20pm on Saturday, September 15, a single crewed Hurricane aircraft, taking part in an aerial display at the Shoreham Airshow, crashed into a field killing the pilot.
"Emergency Services put into place contingency plans for the airshow and are on the scene.
"No other planes were involved, there were no other casualties on the ground.
"The next of kin of the pilot has been informed.
"The Air Accident Investigation Board has been contacted and will be carrying out a full investigation.
"Sussex Police are asking anybody with any video footage of the incident to please hand a copy into their nearest police station.
"Display pilots and the organisers of the airshow in conjunction with the Flying Display committee have expressed the desire that the airshow continues and have confirmed that the airshow will run on Sunday."
On behalf of Liz and myself, may I offer sincere condolences to the family of the pilot who died entertaining me and the crowds on Saturday.
It was a fantastic display the the lads were performing and we found it hard to keep track of all the planes in the sky at once and wondered how, in battle, the planes never ran into one another with so much action going on.
I watched intently the said Hurricane do his manouvre and thought he hadn't started his turn high enough right from the start.
There just was not enough height for him to pull out of that dive I feel.
I was willing him so hard to pull it round and thought, "Ah! he's fooled me!"
There is a dip behind those hills and he will appear in a second but it wasnt to be.
A very sad day and I will remember it forever.
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