Shoreham air disaster: Acrobatic displays 'should take place over the sea'

Victim's mother joins MPs in calling for tightening of rules governing flying events


The mother of a Shoreham air disaster victim has called for acrobatic displays to be restricted to taking place over the sea to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

Sue Grimstone, whose son Matthew, 23, was killed when a 1950s Hawker Hunter crashed in a fireball in West Sussex, joined MPs in calling for a tightening of rules governing flying events.

It came after police revealed that they believe 11 people died when the jet fighter ploughed into traffic on the busy A27 dual carriageway after failing to pull out of a loop manoeuvre, with a warning that figure may rise further.

Worthing United footballer Mr Grimstone and teammate Jacob Schilt, also 23, who were on their way to play in a match for the club, and personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, have been confirmed as among the dead.

Mrs Grimstone, from Brighton, told the Daily Telegraph her son's death had been "a waste", adding: "Air shows should be over the sea. It should never have been over that road."

Police have said it is "highly likely" 11 people died and warned the number of fatalities may increase as they and air accident investigators continue to search the scene of the carnage.

Pilot Andy Hill, an experienced aerobatic stunt flyer who has performed at shows up and down the country and flies for British Airways, was pulled alive from the wreckage and is fighting for his life in hospital.

Some 14 people were injured, four of whom were taken to hospital, after the jet crashed at about 1.20pm on Saturday shortly after beginning its display in front of thousands of spectators at the Shoreham Airshow.

Labour MP Grahame Morris told the Daily Mirror airshows should be "limited to displaying over water".

And fellow Labour MP Graham Stringer, a former chairman of Manchester Airport and ex-member of the Commons Transport Committee, told the paper: "I think when an event like this kills 11 people - and it's not the first time there have been fatalities at an airshow - there should be a serious look at the regulations with a view to tightening them up."

Regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said would be assisting the Air Accidents Investigations Branch investigations.

A CAA spokesman said: "The safety standards that must be met by all major civil air displays in the UK are among the very highest in the world.

"All air display arrangements, including the pilots and aircraft, must meet rigorous safety requirements. Individual display pilots are only granted approval following a thorough test of their abilities.

"All aviation safety requirements are regularly reviewed to ensure they provide the highest possible levels of protection. Events of this nature are very rare, but we will now thoroughly examine the circumstances to establish if further improvements can be made.

"We immediately commenced our review processes and remain committed to continuously enhancing the safety of all civil aviation and will provide further updates in the days to come."

Bodies of the dead were being removed on Sunday and specialist recovery teams and air accident investigators will today continue to scour the scene for more victims and clues as to how the accident occurred.

The wreckage of the plane, which still has engine fuel on board, is also expected to be removed by crane today.

Dozens of bunches of flowers, yellow bouquets, roses and sunflowers, were left at the railings of a nearby footbridge by residents and well-wishers.

One card read: "We didn't know you but we came because we care, we wanted you to know that you and your families are in our thoughts. Shoreham grieves for you and with you. Rest in peace."

Another said: "Thinking of all those who have lost their lives at the Shoreham air show on 22 August 2015. Friends and family are in our thoughts. Rest in peace to you all."

A message from St John Ambulance, Southwick Unit, read: "Our thoughts are with loved ones left behind."

While police are yet to formally identify any of those killed in the tragedy, Mr Grimstone's family said they were in "total shock" at his death, adding: "He was the kindest person you could ever meet with, a great wit."

Another man believed to have died was the driver of a Daimler wedding car, who was on his way to pick up a bride for her wedding service.

The company, Chariots Chauffeurs, believe the male driver is among those killed.

Jay Sherwin, the company's owner, said: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of our driver who was caught up in the tragic air crash on Saturday afternoon in Shoreham, West Sussex.

"We ask the media to respect the privacy of his family. We will be making no further comments at this sad time."

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler, from Worthing, is also missing, with friends of his partner Giovanna Chirico posting appeals for information about his whereabouts on Facebook.

Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: "The scene itself is incredibly large. A lot of specially-trained officers are sifting, as we speak, so we do need to keep an open mind, but from what we have seen at this stage it is possible that we will find more fatalities."

The crash site is "extremely large", Mr Barry said, and is spread over 400 yards of the A27 and into the adjoining airfield. All of those who died are thought to have been on the road.

Mr Barry said the status of the jet's ejector seats was yet to be determined but confirmed the pilot was pulled from the burning plane.

The A27 is expected be closed for several days for the investigation and for wreckage to be removed. The road itself was also badly damaged and will need to be repaired.

Specialists from other police forces in the south east and the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have been drafted into help with the operation, which Mr Barry said was "very, very significant ... the likes of which I have never seen before".

The AAIB appealed for the public to send it video footage and photos of the crash for its investigation via

Footage and pictures of the incident can also be sent to police, who urged people to contact them on before sending any files.

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