Two Swiss F-5 fighter jets from the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic display team collided on Thursday near a northern Dutch air base, with one crashing in a pond and the other landing safely with a damaged tail.
The Swiss defence ministry said on Friday that two teams had been dispatched to the Netherlands, comprising flight safety specialists and a care team for the pilots.
The pilot of the plane that crashed ejected before impact and landed in a greenhouse, said Air Force Commander Aldo Schellenberg at a media conference on Thursday. He was not badly hurt but had a few cuts and bruises.
“Under the circumstances, he’s doing well,” said spokeswoman Brigitte Matter of the Menameradiel municipality.
National broadcaster NOS showed footage of the plane, still burning, after it crashed in near a house. There were no reports of injuries on the ground.
Another image showed a second plane with a damaged tail. This plane landed safely:
Schellenberg said he was “enormously relieved” that the accident wasn’t more serious. He said the two planes had collided at 4.15pm. The causes of the accident were still unknown, but he added that both pilots were experienced.
The crash was near the northern city of Leeuwarden, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of the capital Amsterdam.
The Swiss plane, part of the Patrouille Suisse display team, had been due to take part in an air show this weekend.
First serious incident
Schellenberg said it was the first serious incident in Patrouille Suisse’s 52-year history and that an inquiry had been launched by the Swiss military.
Last October an F/A-18 fighter belonging to the Swiss air force crashed in France. The pilot was able to eject to safety.
The most recent fatality involving the Swiss air force was in October 2013, when a fighter plane crashed into a cliff wall in Alpnachstad, canton Obwalden. The pilot and an air force doctor both died. It was later concluded that the accident had been caused by pilot error.
Founded in 1964, the Patrouille Suisse is one of the four display teams of the Swiss Air Force. With its shows, both at home and abroad, it has become a trademark for Switzerland, showing the capability, precision and readiness of the Swiss Air Force. Its goal is to inspire the public and spark young people’s interest in all the aviation professions.
All members of the Patrouille Suisse are professional military pilots or air traffic controllers. There are no Swiss Air Force pilots performing exclusively for air shows, therefore being part of the Patrouille Suisse is an extra task in addition to their everyday jobs.
(Source: Swiss Air Force)
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