On Saturday, a military air show in Thailand ended in tragedy as a fighter jet plunged to the ground. The plane, a JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet, exploded into flames. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive the crash.
Families had gathered at the airport of Hat Yai, a southern city, to watch the air show. Organizers intended the spectacular air show for children as the country celebrated their annual Children’s Day. The country celebrates national Children’s Day every second Saturday of January.
Videos of the tragic accident showed a startled crowd. Onlookers shrieked as the fighter jet nosedived and crashed near the runway of the airport. The explosion sent up plumes of smoke, Yahoo News reported.
One Pilot Died in the Crash
The pilot, Sqn Ldr Dilokrit Pattavee, died when his Jas 39C Gripen fighter jet crashed on the runway of Wing 56. Pattavee was executing a surprise attack maneuver at around 9:27am. Then, the jet suddenly lost altitude and crashed, the Bangkok Post noted.
The defense ministry announced that only Pattavee, who was 35-years old, died as a result. However, the actual cause of the crash remains under investigation as of this writing. Airport officials also added that were no other fatalities as the audience were considerably far from the crash site.
Major General Werachon Sukondhapatipak said the prime minister expressed his condolences to the “pilot, his family and the Royal Thai Air Force.” National Children’s Day sees the country’s military bases open their gates so that young ones can handle guns and play on tanks and warships. Also, many zoos and museums throughout the nation allow children in for free.
Thailand is the sole country in the region armed with Swedish fighter jets. Since 2008, Thailand has added 12 Gripen C/D single-engine jets to their air force. The unit price of each jet is around $70million or 3.5 billion baht.
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