One of the planes of the Frecce Tricolori patrol victim of a bird collision

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The famous Frecce Tricolori patrol lost an aircraft following what was likely a bird collision. Although the pilot was able to eject, the wreckage or some of the debris from the aircraft unfortunately hit a car in which a family was watching the patrol take off. A five-year-old child died.

A bird collision causing the loss of the aircraft

“Pony 4 fell, during takeoff it was the victim of a bad impact with a bird.” This is the message broadcast on the radio by the pilots of the Frecce Tricolori patrol (literally “the tricolor arrows”). The accident occurred on Saturday September 16, 2023 during takeoff of the famous Italian patrol, from Turin Caselle airport. Pony 4 is one of the patrol’s Aermacchi MB-339s, which takes off in formation for Vercelli, where the patrol is to demonstrate its evolutions.

A clear loss of thrust

But the pilot in command, Captain Del Do, quickly realized that he was losing thrust. In the video which shows the accident, the aircraft left the formation after warning that it was the victim of an engine problem. Operating at less than 10 m height and at reduced speed, Captain Del Do had no choice but to eject at approximately the height of the perimeter surrounding the airport. In all likelihood, it was a bird collision that caused the loss of control of the aircraft. The ejection went perfectly, the parachute deploying and the canopy inflating quickly despite the proximity to the ground. While the pilot was still hanging at the end of his corolla, the MB-339 hit the ground in a huge ball of orange-red fire at a place called San Francesco al Campo.

A successful ejection… But a tragedy on the ground

Unfortunately the aircraft crashed in the perimeter surrounding the airport and at least one part of the wreckage of the aircraft struck a car in passing, which was probably occupied by a family, coming to watch the takeoff of the Frecce Tricolori . A five-year-old child and a little girl died while several other people were seriously burned. For his part, the pilot suffered burns. An investigation was opened by Attorney General Gabrielle Viglione and her deputy Valentina Bossi, who announced to the pilot that he will be prosecuted for manslaughter.

Ramstein in memories

This accident linked to the patrol is the second resulting in the death of a man, since the first and most serious accident originating from one and even several of the patrol’s aircraft occurred on August 28, 1988, on the occasion of the meeting at US Air Force (Europe) Ramstein Air Base, Germany. That day, during their aerobatics demonstration, the 10 MB-399s performed a particularly spectacular figure called the “pierced heart”. To carry it out, the formation making up the Italian patrol is divided into two groups of five and four aircraft, which draw with their smoke bombs a heart-shaped figure, which is pierced by the last aircraft, hence the name of the figure. .

70 people killed

This device arrives that day too early, very quickly and too low. He collided with two aircraft which crashed near the runway, onto a Black Hawk and its crew. Unfortunately the last device was not stopped by the respective collisions and continued on its way, before surrounding the planet at the height of an ice cream vendor whose line of customers found themselves doused in kerosene which ignited by the following. The air disaster resulted in the deaths of 70 people and at least 450 others were injured. Some never recovered from the accident, which led to the implementation of new regulations aimed at better protecting spectators. This accident marked the 1980s as one of the worst, if not the worst, to date.

John Walker Avatar