A sad, dark day at Shoreham Air Show….

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September 4, 2015 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in theA  Littlehampton Gazette August 27th 2015

SATURDAY 22nd. August 5.50pm. I am writing this week’s column within minutes of returning home from the Shoreham Air Show where along with thousands of other spectators I have been in stunned lockdown on the airfield for over two hours. I was on the fairly empty north end of the field heading for the Amsterdam pub to join close friends for lunch when the Hawker Hunter fighter jet began its regular routine while a sixties tune, the name of which I cannot recall, played through the public address system. I stopped to watch, thrilled at the site of this iconic airplane that was so frequently in the skies above the Littlehampton of my youth. I laughed and muttered to myself ‘what a lovely sight’. It shone in the sunlight, climbed looped and dived back down at what to me appeared to be a seriously low level. It vanished from my view and I quite expected to see it rise above the tents and the trees in seconds, but it did not. Two explosions and dark flame-laced palls of black smoke boiled above where it should have appeared. I was stunned, and in that moment which will always be with me, I shouted the words out aloud ‘Oh no,’ and burst into tears. Distressed I turned to a RAF officer standing nearby and said quite simply, ‘I want to go home.’ He nodded. I made for the nearest exit but it was already closed. No one was allowed to leave the field I supposed because emergency vehicles needed instant and unhindered access. Thoughtfully, young air cadets brought seating and water for the stranded spectators and people huddled together not really believing what they had seen. There were a few moans but by and large just a stunned acceptance and a respectful quiet. Later I slowly walked the long walk to the south of the airfield where the gates had been opened and as I walked I saw the dark unmistakeable shape of the Vulcan approach the field and as it growled overhead, I believed I saw the starboard wing dip a little as it passed the crash site, perhaps an acknowledgement of the terrible devastation below. It was a long miserable walk to Shoreham Town.

So sad for all concerned not only for the dead and injured but also for those who  will have been so touched and traumatised by this disaster.

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