Shoreham air crash trial: Pilot Andrew Hill gives evidence

Andy Hill arriving at court on first day of defence - 13/2/19Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Hill has started to give evidence at the Old Bailey

A pilot accused of killing 11 men when his Hawker Hunter jet crashed at the Shoreham air show has denied claims he was cavalier or thrill-seeking.

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, Andrew Hill said “it was the primary aim of the display to avoid risk”.

It is the first time the ex-military pilot has spoken in public since he was pulled from the wreckage of his plane.

His vintage jet crashed on to the A27 on 22 August 2015 after failing to complete an aerobatic manoeuvre.

Mr Hill, 54, from Sandon in Hertfordshire, denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Asked by his defence barrister Karim Khalil if he had ever “any mind to cause risk to anybody” at an air show, Mr Hill said: “Absolutely not. It was the primary aim of the display to avoid risk.”

‘Disciplined approach’

Asked what he got out of displays, he said it was “probably the highest level of discipline in what you could do with flying an aircraft particularly in this environment now I’m in the civilian world”.

Mr Hill went on to reject the prosecution’s description of him as a “cavalier pilot”, saying he “took a structured, disciplined approach” to flying.

“I held back from areas I was uncomfortable doing… we have our strengths and weaknesses and experience,” he told the court.

Jurors earlier heard that Mr Hill was educated in Kent, and was recruited into the RAF as a frontline pilot straight from university.

During his career, he was on active service for a month in northern Iraq, and also received an award for writing a computer programme that contributed to aircraft safety.

Mr Hill left the RAF in 1995 and went to Virgin Atlantic as a first officer, flying the Airbus A340, and then to British Airways where he flew the Boeing 757 and 767.

He moved into the captain’s seat because “my time for command came up relatively quickly”, he told the court.

The trial continues.

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