The Patrouille Suisse have just lost an F-5E Tiger II in what appears to be the latest incident in one of the most bizarre and tragic weeks we’ve seen for military flight demonstration teams in years. The pilot of the aircraft was able to safely eject from his aircraft, which crashed in a pond away from onlookers. Thankfully, none of the spectators were harmed. The crash occurred near Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands during a practice run in the afternoon, local time.
@airlivenet picture of right stabilo grom second F-5. Landed safely on Leeuwarden AFB pic.twitter.com/72EFc8zDPg
— Rob Venmans (@RobVenmans) June 9, 2016
Though the details of the incident are still unfolding, I was able to gather from a photographer, Dennis Betten, that the aircraft that went down experienced a midair collision with another aircraft in close formation, seemingly shearing off a chunk of one F-5E’s right horizontal stabilizer. The Tiger II with the damaged stabilizer was able to recover successfully. All other show aircraft were subsequently recalled. The Patrouille Suisse has operated the Northrop F-5E after their 1994 airshow season.
Earlier today, reports from Russian news media streamed in that an Su-27 Flanker of the Knights aerobatic demonstration team was lost near Moscow, with the pilot confirmed killed as a result of the crash. Further information on the crash has yet to be released, though an investigation is also currently underway. Exactly one week ago, during a practice flight in Smyrna, Tennessee, a US Navy F/A-18C Hornet of the Blue Angels flight demo team was lost during a practice sortie, resulting in the death of its pilot. Earlier that day, an F-16 Fighting Falcon of the US Air Force’s Thunderbirds demo team was also lost, though after the pilot guided it to an empty field and ejected safely from his aircraft.
This article will be updated as more news becomes available on the Patrouille Suisse crash, as well as the loss of the Knights Flanker. The Tactical Air Network would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the Knights on the loss of Major Sergey Eremenko. Tailwinds and blue skies, sir.