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Disaster at Plock Air Show leaves pilot dead

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 19.06.2011 11:35
A light aircraft that spun out of control while performing an acrobatic stunt crashed into the River Vistula, Saturday, killing the pilot on board.

Disaster strikes at the Plock Air Show. Photo: PAP/Marcin Bednarski

The acrobatic performance, carried out by Marek Szufa, a pilot for LOT Polish Airlines and a runner-up in Poland’s acrobatic championships, was part of an air show and picnic in the central city of Plock.

The crash happened when plumes of smoke started to come out of the engine of the Christen Eagle II piloted by Szufa. Moments later the plane lost control and plunged into the river.

The direct causes of the crash are as yet unknown, although experts suggest that Szufa may have lost his sense of altitude, although other opinions point to engine failure or the pilot fainting for an instant, causing him to lose control of the aircraft as a result.

The manoeuvre which spurned the crash was the last in the display that Szufa had prepared.

Speaking to Polish Radio before the show, Szufa had underlined that the stunts require a lot of previous experience, and that he had been given special permission from the Civil Aviation Office to perform the acrobatics.

Rescue divers managed to release Szufa from the plane’s cabin, by which time the pilot had been underwater for a number of minutes, emergency services report.

After attempts to reanimate the pilot on the banks of the river failed, Szufa was transported to hospital, where he was proclaimed dead after nearly an hour of further resuscitation attempts.

Organisers of the air show cancelled all further activities after the accident happened.

Marek Szufa was 57 years old, and had over 20,000 hours of flying experience.

This is not the first time such an accident has happened at air shows staged in Poland. In 2009, a Cessna crashed near Krakow with four people on board. In the same year, a Belarusian Su-27 crashed at the air show in Radom. In 2007 two Zlin light aircraft also collided at the show in Radom. (jb)

Source: IAR/PAP

tags: air crash, Plock
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