South East Coast Ambulance Service said the victims died at the scene, while another person is critical in hospital.Seven people have died and the number of injured stands at 14.
The jet crashed on the nearby A27. Witnesses said it was performing a loop but could not complete the manoeuvre.Prime Minister David Cameron sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of those who died in the crash.Eyewitness Stephen Jones said: “The plane involved is a Hawker Hunter T mark 7. And he’d just begun his flying display.”He’d gone up into a loop and as he was coming out of the loop I just thought, you’re too low, you’re too low, pull up.”And he flew straight into the ground either on or very close to the A27, which runs past the airport.
“Ailish Southall, who was driving along the A27 in West Sussex with her two children, said the plane came down close to them.”We were waiting for it to go back up and it didn’t – it seemed to kind of split in two,” she said.”There were huge amounts of fire and we ran from the car to kind of avoid the debris because we were about 15 metres away, we were just across the road from where the accident happened.”
Another eyewitness, tweeting as Jon B, said: “It (the plane) turned from the north by Lancing College, went to go low towards the airfield and went behind some trees below where I was.”Then there was a crunch sound and a ball of flames and thick black smoke came up from the ground.”
BBC Sussex reporter Simon Jenkins said I’m standing on the middle of the A27 and it’s deserted.The police are taking no chances whatsoever. I’ve been asked to move back in case of any further explosions.I’ve been speaking to people and they are absolutely stunned. The plane seems to have stalled mid manoeuvre and came crashing down on the A27.The acrid smell and thick black smoke has just been fanning across the area and the skies are completely quiet.
The Hawker Hunter was a mainstay of the RAF through the 1950s and early 1960s.First flown in 1951, the single-seat plane was used as a fighter, fighter-bomber for reconnaissance and for aerobatics.There was also a two-seat trainer version, which served with many other air forces. Two-seater variants are still used by the RAF for training.The Hunter Hawker was deployed in major operations such as Malaya and Suez.The plane was also flown by an RAF display team dubbed the “Black Arrows”.
“The Air Accident Investigation Bureau are attending the scene and have asked anyone who has video or photographs of the plane in the time leading up to and including the crash to hold on to them and await advice as to whether they may be wanted to assist with the investigation.”