Accident Republic F-84E-10-RE Thunderjet 49-2237, 21 May 1952
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 209463
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Type:Silhouette image of generic f84 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Republic F-84E-10-RE Thunderjet
Owner/operator:USAFE Skyblazers Aerobatic Display Team
Registration: 49-2237
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RAF Manston, Ramsgate, Kent, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:RAF Manston, Ramsgate, Kent (MSE/EGMH)
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Republic F-84E-10-RE Thunderjet 49-2237, USAF Europe "Skyblazers" Aerobatic Display Team. Written off (destroyed) 21/5/1952: Engine explosion during low level fast pass during airshow. Pilot - Captain John Patrick O'Brien - killed. According to a contemporary local newspaper report ("East Kent Times" - Wednesday 28 May 1952):

"Third Jet Crashes
Another Thunderjet killed its pilot on Wednesday. After giving a brilliant display of aerobatics with four other machines above Manston Aerodrome, Capt. John Patrick O'Brien crashed to his death in his burning aircraft.

Capt. O'Brien, leader of the crack "Skyblazers" stunt team from the West German air base of Fursten Feldbruck, had no chance to use his ejector seat escape apparatus. Asbestos-clad U.S.A.F. personnel took his body from the scattered wreckage of the machine as Ramsgate firemen, who had gone to the scene to offer their help, arrived.

Near Village.
The Thunderjet hit the ground a short distance within the airfield perimeter near Manston village. Workers in the field near the scene of the crash rushed to help, but were driven back by the heat of the burning paraffin.

The four remaining aircraft of the team - who were staging the display for the benefit of visiting Scandinavian journalists - completed their movement, joined formation and landed.

The "Skyblazers" had arrived at Manston only a few days before, having taken part in stunt and competition flying on the Continent.

Eye-Witness's Story
A graphic account of the crash was given the "East Kent Times" by a civilian employee of the Americans, at Manston.

"I was on the grass embankment with some others, outside the camp headquarters, a few yards from the control tower," he said. "We were watching a special show by four aircraft from Germany.. we knew it was a special effort. The aircraft did everything - banking, looping, and rolling in formation. Just before the crash, they had split apart, and were approaching the 'drome from north, south, east and west. One aircraft came across the field about 150 feet off the ground. It suddenly burst into flames, went into a short spin, and crashed in a pillar of smoke."

Wonderful Spectacle
Mr. C. R. Clark, of Chapel Road, St. Laurence, was one of many people outside the aerodrome who, watching the spectacular flying of the group of machines, saw Capt. O'Brien's Thunderjet dive to its doom.

"I was watching them from my bedroom window, just before going out," he said. "Their flying had really been wonderful to watch. After completing a number of movements, the aircraft fanned out in different directions, and, as I watched, one rolled on its side with flames leaping out of the fuselage. A wing dropped off, and the plane spun crazily into the earth."


1. East Kent Times - Wednesday 28 May 1952



Revision history:

17-Apr-2018 15:39 j155 Added
08-Mar-2021 20:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
04-Dec-2022 01:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative, Category]

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