AN Amateur photographer from Hornchurch caught the terrifying moment when a stunt glider smashed into a runway in an incredible series of pictures.
Rob Yuill, of Hornchurch Road, was one of more than 15,000 fans who looked on in horror as the high performance Swift F1 ploughed into the ground at an airshow in Shoreham, West Sussex.
Incredibly, experienced pilot Mike Newman managed to crawl out of the wreckage and is now recovering after receiving treatment for three broken vertebrae.
Mr Yuill, 62, a member of Upminster Camera Club, said: “He had a very lucky escape indeed. It was great to see him crawl out. It is not always an indication, but the fact that he retained consciousness and managed to get out was good.”
The 35-year-old, a former racing driver, was performing with the Swift Aerobatic Display Team at the Royal Air Forces Association event on August 23.
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The gilder plummeted to the ground just a few minutes after being released by the tug.
Its nose went down and it began losing airspeed, Mr Yuill said, and was almost vertical as it hit the ground, its front crumpling and the windshield ripping off, exposing the pilot.
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He added: “It was pretty awful. There was a stunned silence; no one said anything, the words wouldn’t come out, everyone just looked on open-mouthed.”
Emergency services were quickly on the scene and Mr Newman was taken to Worthing Hospital.
Mr Newman, a gliding instructor and aerobatic coach, has been flying since 1996 and is said to be ‘on the mend.’
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the British Gliding Association are investigating the crash.