Shoreham Airshow crash pilot: I was not 'cavalier or thrill-seeking'

Shoreham Airshow crash pilot Andy Hill has told his trial that he was not a 'cavalier' pilot when it came to safety.

Pilot Andy Hill is charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Getty Images
Pilot Andy Hill is charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Getty Images

Hill was flying a Hawker Hunter jet when it crashed at the airshow in 2015, leading to the deaths of 11 people.

Hill, 54, of Standon Road, Buntingford, denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

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He took the witness stand this morning wearing a dark suit and tie and answered questions from defence barrister Karim Khalil QC.

Hill was flying the Hawker Hunter jet in August 2015 when it tragically crashed onto the A27. Picture: Sussex Police/CPS

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Lengthy flying career in the RAF and as an airline captain

The veteran pilot told the trial about his career in the RAF which included time in the famous Harrier aircraft.

He spent a month in Iraq flying the jet as part of the RAF force monitoring the no-fly zone in the late 1990s.

The court also heard that Hill received an award for a computer program he wrote to try and increase safety in a newer version of the Harrier jet.

Hill left the RAF and joined Virgin Atlantic in 1995 and later British Airways in 1996, where he became an airline captain and met his wife Ellie.

Display Team Viper

The court heard that Hill joined a six-man display team of experienced pilots and began flying at airshows across the country.

With the lunchbreak approaching, Hill was asked about his attitude to safety.

Defence barrister Mr Khalil asked him: "It has been suggested by the Crown that you were in some way a cavalier or thrill-seeking pilot."

Mr Hill replied: "I would say I was probably one of the least people that applied to in the sense that there are ways to be cavalier and some people are and some people are not.

"I believe I took a very structured, disciplined approach to it and held back from areas I was uncomfortable with doing.

"It was the primary aim of the air display to avoid risk."

'Pilot error' versus 'cognitive impairment'

The trial at the Old Bailey is now in its fifth week, with jurors expected to continue hearing evidence until early March.

The trial continues this afternoon, when Hill will continue to answer questions from Mr Khalil.

Once Mr Khalil has finished asking questions the floor will be given over to prosecutor Tom Kark QC to question Hill.

The trial continues