Ramstein Airshow Disaster

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The Ramstein airshow disaster was one of the world's deadliest airshow disasters. It took place in front of an audience of about 300,000 people on August 28, 1988, in Ramstein, state of Rheinland-Pfalz, West Germany, near the city of Kaiserslautern at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base airshow Flugtag '88. Sixty-seven spectators and three pilots died, and 346 spectators sustained serious injuries in the resulting explosion and fire. Ten Aermacchi MB-339 PAN jets from the Italian Air Force display team, Frecce Tricolori, were performing their 'pierced heart' (Italian: Cardioide, German: Durchstochenes Herz) formation. In this formation, two groups of aircraft create a heart shape in front of the audience along the runway. In the completion of the lower tip of the heart, the two groups of planes pass each other parallel to the runway. The heart is then pierced, in the direction towards the audience, by a lone aircraft. The mid-air collision took place as the two heart-forming groups passed each other and the heart-piercing aircraft hit them. The piercing aircraft crashed onto the runway and the fuselage and resulting fireball of aviation fuel tumbled into the spectator area, hitting the crowd and coming to rest against a refrigerated trailer being used to dispense ice cream to the various vendor booths in the area. At the same time, one of the damaged aircraft from the heart-forming group crashed into the emergency medical evacuation UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, injuring the pilot, Captain Kim Strader. Captain Strader died weeks later, on September 17, 1988 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, from burns he suffered in the accident. The pilot of the aircraft that hit the helicopter had ejected, but was killed as he hit the runway before his parachute opened. The third aircraft disintegrated in the collision and parts of it were spread along the runway. After the crash, the remaining aircraft regrouped and landed at Sembach Air Base. Large amounts of video were taken of the accident. Upon completing the cardioid figure, the piercing aircraft (Pony 10) came in too low and too fast at the crossing point with the other two groups (5 aircraft on the left and 4 on the right) completing the heart shaped figure. Lt. Col. Ivo Nutarelli, lead pilot and flying Pony 10, was unable to correct his altitude or slow his speed and collided with the leading airplane (Pony 1) of the left formation, destroying the plane's tail section with the front of his aircraft. Lt. Col. Mario Naldini's plane spiralled out of control, hitting another plane in his formation (Pony 2, piloted by Captain Giorgio Alessio) before crashing onto a taxiway near the runway, destroying a Med-Evac helicopter, fatally injuring the pilot (Captain Kim Strader). The third plane to be involved in the disaster, Pony 2, was severely damaged and crashed onto and beside the runway, exploding in a fireball. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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