A military plane of the Italian Air Force crashed while taking part in an air show in central Italy, killing the pilot on board. Capt Gabriele Orlandi, 36, was attempting to perform a loop-the-loop in his 85million euro Eurofighter Typhoon when he apparently misjudged the manoeuvre and smashed into the water, a few hundred yards from the coast.
The Italian air force pilot was performing the stunt in front of a large crowd that included his girlfriend and his parents at the air show in Terracina, south of Rome. His girlfriend had to be taken to hospital and treated for severe shock. Capt Orlandi died on impact and his body was recovered by navy divers.
He had more than a decade’s experience as a pilot and had trained in the United States with American Top Gun flyers. The air show was immediately suspended after the accident and two investigations were opened, one by the air force and another by civilian magistrates in the nearby town of Latina.
Thousands of people had gathered in the afternoon to watch the air show, which should have also involved the "Frecce Tricolore" – a famous aerobatic demonstration team of the Air Force. Several amateur videos were shot by spectators, and spread on social media, showing the plane performing a dive in the air before collapsing into the waters. The Air Force stated the jet belonged to its Test Flight Department, and crashed after entering the final phase of the flight schedule.
One spectator told La Stampa Italia: "It was terrible. The plane should have touched the water and then traced back but instead crashed into the sea." Rescue workers and emergency service crews rushed to help Capt Orlandi, who was meant to be the penultimate pilot to perform in the airshow. His body was found at sea about 90 minutes later.