Pilots Killed In Airshow Crashes

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Accidents at opposite ends of the world and opposite ends of the air show performance spectrum had a common and deadly result on Saturday. In England, the last flying de Havilland DH53 Hummingbird, essentially a 1923 ultralight aircraft, crashed at the Military Pageant Airshow at Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade Beds. Former RAF pilot and current British Airways 777 pilot Trevor Roche died at the scene after the wooden aircraft crashed in front of about 600 spectators. The rest of the show was cancelled. The aircraft was owned by the Shuttleworth collection and was the last intact example of its type. Only 12 were built.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the pilot of an L-39 Albatros was killed at the Klerksdrop Air Show. Gianfranco Cicogna was doing a formation routine with Charles Urban in another L-39 when he broke formation just before the aircraft dove into the ground and exploded. In an unusual move, performers held a brief meeting after the crash and decided the show must go on. "They decided to continue in honor of Gianfranco," said show spokeswoman Sandy Botha.