Their 1A-63 Pampa two-seater jet - the Argentine air force's latest jet trainer - stalled in mid-air and crashed into grassland beside the main runway at Hurn Airport, near Bournemouth, before exploding in flames.
The victims, Commander Juan Carlos Sapolsky, the pilot, and Captain Omar Dario Gelardi, were killed instantly. Both men had been due to show off their new plane at the Farnborough air show next weekend. The bodies will be flown back to the Argentine for a military funeral.
Gordon Ansty, 27, from Staines, west London, who saw the crash, said that the aircraft had been practising one particularly dangerous trick where it flew up to about 1,000ft and then dive- bombed vertically, before pulling up at the last minute. But 'something seemed to fall off the cockpit on its last dive'.
He went on: 'Instead of pulling up it seemed to go faster and faster before it hit the deck. There was an incredible bang, and seconds later it erupted into a ball of flames.'
Doug Wilson, director of Hurn airport, said later that an AAF pilot and seven civilian technicians had been operating the Pampa from the airport since last Friday and were due to depart tomorrow.
Experts from the Department of Transport's Air Accidents Investigations Branch went to the scene to begin an inquiry.Reuse content