It is after 8575 days that I put this report on line after I have visited the memorial recently. Now I have been at the spot and saw the names on the victims I can put the memory in a safe place in my mind. The 28th of august 1988 began as a bright sunny day, though the end was dark. I want to share the joy of the day up to that last moment. It is cynical that as I put this on line, the numbers are shattered by the number of Covid-19 victims.
The static display
Asas de Portugal
Patrouille de France
The memorial site in 2020
At 15:44 on
28th august 1988 disaster struck as the solo Pony 10 clashed into the
formation. Several different video recordings of the accident were taped. They
show that the “piercing” aircraft (Pony 10) came in too low and too
fast at the crossing point with the other two groups (five aircraft on the left
and four on the right) as they completed the heart-shaped figure. Lead pilot
Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Nutarelli, flying Pony 10, was unable to correct his
altitude or slow his speed, and collided with the leading airplane (Pony 1,
piloted by Lt. Col. Mario Naldini) of the left formation “inside” the
figure, destroying the plane’s tail section with the front of his aircraft.
Pony 1 then
spiralled out of control, hitting the plane on its lower left (Pony 2, piloted
by Captain Giorgio Alessio). Lt. Col. Naldini ejected but was killed as he hit
the runway before his parachute opened. His plane crashed onto a taxiway near
the runway, destroying a medevac helicopter and fatally injuring its pilot,
Captain Kim Strader. Pony 2, the third plane involved in the disaster, was
severely damaged from the impact with Pony 1, and crashed beside the runway,
exploding in a fireball. Its pilot, Captain Alessio, died instantly.
the aircraft that started the crash, continued on a ballistic trajectory across
the runway, completely out of control and in flames, its forward section
destroyed by the impact with Pony 1. The plane hit the ground ahead of the
spectator stands, exploding in a fireball and destroying a police vehicle
parked inside the concertina-wire fence that defined the active runway area.
The plane continued, cartwheeling for a distance before picking up the
three-strand concertina-wire fence, crossing an emergency access road, slamming
into the crowd, and hitting a parked ice cream van. The area of the crash,
being centered on the flightline and as close to the airshow as civilian
spectators could get, had been considered the “best seats in the
house”, and was densely packed. The entire incident, from the collision of
the first two planes to the crash into the crowd, took less than seven seconds,
leaving almost no time for spectators to run away. The low altitude of the
maneuver (45 meters above the crowd) also contributed to the short time frame.
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