Pilot killed when jet crashes during air show on Children’s Day

A military air show for children was marred by tragedy on Saturday when a fighter jet plunged from the sky and burst into flames, killing the pilot.

Families were gathered at the airport in the southern city of Hat Yai to watch the show put on for Thailand’s annual Children’s Day.

Footage of the accident captured shrieks from a startled crowd as the jet took a nosedive and crashed near the airport’s runway, releasing fiery plumes of smoke.

“One pilot was killed in the accident this morning,” defence ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Kongcheep Tantravanich said on Saturday.

The pilot was identified as Sqn. Ldr. Dilokrit Pattawee, 35.

No one else was harmed in the incident, according to an airport official, as the audience was gathered a considerable distance away from the crash site.

A junta spokesman said the pilot was flying a Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jet.

“The Prime Minister has expressed his condolences to (the) pilot, his family and the Royal Thai Air Force,” said Maj. Gen. Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

Sqn. Ldr. Dilokrit’s funeral will take place this afternoon at Wat Prasri Mahadhat Worawihan in Bangkok.

Thailand’s national Children’s Day is celebrated yearly on the second Saturday of January.

The holiday sees military bases around the country open up their gates to let youngsters handle guns and climb over tanks and warships.

Many zoos and museums also allow children in for free.

Story: AFP/ Coconuts Bangkok

 

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