No less than four high-profile aviation incidents, three in the UK and one in Colombia, have rocked the aviation world within the last 24 hours. These included the loss of a shadowy Colombian Air Force CASA 235, an Embraer private jet with three of the Bin Laden family on board, a Folland Gnat performing at a huge car event, and a Spitfire that crashed during a test flight.
The CASA CN-235 crashed, with 12 people (some reports state 11) losing their lives. The aircraft appeared quite unique, as it was highly modified and covered in antennae and sensor blisters. I was not aware of Colombia flying a CASA in this extreme of an Electronic Intelligence collecting and advanced communications configuration. Supposedly the aircraft reported an engine failure before crashing some 370 miles north of Bogota.
Thousands of miles away, in the UK, an Embraer Phenom 300 private jet with one pilot and three passengers on board crashed during final approach Blackbushe airport in Hampshire. Apparently, the three passengers were members of the Bin Laden family, which remains one of the most powerful business families in the Middle East.
In a statement, Hampshire Constabulary said: “We do believe three of the deceased to be the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the bin Laden family, but formal post-mortem examinations are ongoing.”
The three were said to be visiting the UK on vacation.
A Folland Gnat antique jet warbird crashed while flying a display for a car festival in Cheshire. The aircraft was part of the privately owned Gnat Display Team and its pilot, Kevin Whyman, who was married with a young daughter, was a highly trained ex-Royal Air Force jet pilot who helped in starting the team some ten years ago.
It is unclear what caused the crash. Eyewitnesses say the say the aircraft was doing rolls and it seemed to lose control and spin to the ground. An investigation is underway. Although the pilot lost his life, nobody was hurt on the ground.
The event’s website describes it as: “A dream of cars, music, food and masses of family fun - a dream conjured up by Chris Evans and brought to life in Cheshire and Hampshire.” Chris Evans, of course, is the new host of Top Gear.
Finally, a Supermarine Spitfire crashed during a test flight out of Biggin Hill Airport, which is located south east of London, when the engine supposedly quit. Although the aircraft looks like it had a wing ripped off on impact, the pilot is said to have escaped and is in stable condition with a non-life threatening shoulder injury. The owners of the Spitfire, Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, say they will repair the gorgeous antique and have it flying as soon as next year.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.