Pilot whose plane crashed and killed 11 men at the Shoreham Airshow can’t recall tragedy

Nine of the Shoreham air crash victims (top row left to right) Graham Mallinson, Mark Trussler and Maurice Abrahams, (middle row left to right) Matthew Grimstone, Dylan Archer and Richard Smith, (bottom row left to right) Tony Brightwell, Matt Jones and Mark Reeves. PA/PA Wire
Nine of the Shoreham air crash victims (top row left to right) Graham Mallinson, Mark Trussler and Maurice Abrahams, (middle row left to right) Matthew Grimstone, Dylan Archer and Richard Smith, (bottom row left to right) Tony Brightwell, Matt Jones and Mark Reeves. PA/PA Wire

A PILOT whose plane crashed during the Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has told jurors he has no memory of the ‘dreadful tragedy’.

Andrew Hill spoke for the first time in public about the 2015 crash as he gave evidence at his trial at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

The 1950s Hawker Hunter fighter jet plunged to the ground and exploded in a fireball on the A27 in West Sussex after Hill attempted a loop on August 22.

The 54-year-old, of Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

He told the court he remembers discussing plans for his display with organisers a week before, but has no memory of events between August 19 and the moment he woke from an induced coma in hospital the following month.

He said: ‘I can only recall what preparation I did up until the 19th.’

Asked by Karim Khalil QC, defending, if he had any memory of taking off on the day of the crash, or any part of the display, he replied: ‘None at all.’

Hill said: ‘Probably most of the last three years have been spent trying on earth to resolve what happened.’

Asked if this had been easy, he replied: ‘No, because it caused a dreadful tragedy to a lot of people.

‘I was the pilot, I was in charge of the aircraft.’

Hill claims he had ‘cognitive impairment’ at the time of the crash and told medics who came to his rescue that he ‘blacked out’ in the air, the court previously heard.

He was thrown clear from the burning plane and survived despite several serious injuries.

Standing in the witness box, he told the court he now only had one negligible injury’ and had received ‘a lot of family care’.

Jurors have been told Hill passed medical checks before the crash. Tests and scans afterwards did not show any sign of a medical condition - including cognitive impairment - which may have affected his health leading up to the crash, the court heard.

Asked if he would have continued with the display if he had been feeling unwell before take-off or while he was in the air, he said: ‘No.’ He said he does not remember any of his conversations with paramedics after the crash.

Mr Khalil told the court Hill had been advised not to watch the last moments of footage of the flight - which show the crash - because of ‘concerns of what it may trigger’ for him.

Hill said: ‘I don't know what I did. I know what the aircraft did.’

He temporarily left the witness box to walk into the centre of the court, demonstrating his plan for the display using a model of the aircraft and moving around the room in front of the jury.

Asked if it would have been possible for ‘someone of clear mind’ to adjust the flight path during the display, he agreed, adding: ‘More than one opportunity.’

He said that from what he had seen, the flight path of the aircraft made ‘no sense’ and he ‘could not understand it’.

The court heard Hill normally found the ‘bent loop’ a ‘straight forward manoeuvre’ to carry out.

Watching the GoPro footage from the cockpit of the flight, he described to the jury what he believed was happening during the display leading up to the crash.

He said: ‘It doesn't seem what I would likely do. It's not particularly well flown.

‘It seems strange and I can't think why I would do it. It looks untidy. It's not being controlled properly.’

As the plane loses power and speed, he said this was ‘the absolute opposite of sense’, adding: ‘It's the last thing you would want to do.’

He said the way the plane is flown did not match the allegations against him, or how he would normally fly the aircraft, adding: ‘It doesn't match anything.’

Hill said he would have ejected from the plane if necessary, adding: ‘I would have done something.

‘There are a number of escape manoeuvres which I could have been starting.’

The trial continues.