Flypast over Sheffield for crashed bomber

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The US Air Force and RAF flew a commemorative flypast over a Sheffield park to honour the crew who crashed there.

Up to 10,000 people gathered in a park in Sheffield to cheer a flypast by US Air Force F-15s and RAF planes, honouring 10 airmen who died when their bomber crashed in a park 75 years ago.

The US aeroplane came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on 22 February 1944, killing everyone on board. The calls for a commemorative flypast started after a chance meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who tends a memorial to the airmen in the park. Mr Foulds was eight when he witnessed the Mi Amigo crash and explode in the park, as the pilot made a last ditch attempt to avoid ploughing into him and his friends.

A social media-led campaign was picked up in the US, resulting in the organisation of the flypast plus new steps and a flagpole for the crash memorial. The flypast involved military aircraft from Britain and the United States, who set off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk - home to the largest US Air Force base in the UK. Relatives of the aircrew and about 10,000 people paid their respects as the planes roared over the memorial at about 08:45 GMT.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Tony, now aged 82, told the crowds, “Thank you very much for coming, it's lovely to see you.”

At the same time that the flypast took place, wreaths were laid at the graves of three of the American airmen who are interred at Cambridge American Cemetery. The headstones of Staff Sergeant Harry W Estabrooks, Sergeant Maurice D Robbins and Sergeant Charles H Tuttle were adorned with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

The 10 men killed in the crash were Pilot Lt John Kriegshauser, from Missouri; 2nd Lt Lyle Curtis, co-pilot from Idaho; 2nd Lt John Humphrey, navigator from Illinois; Melchor Hernandez, bombardier from California; Harry Estabrooks, engineer and gunner from Kansas; Charles Tuttle, gunner from Kentucky; Robert Mayfield, radio operator from Illinois; Vito Ambrosio, gunner from New York; Malcolm Williams, gunner from Oklahoma and Maurice Robbins, gunner from Texas.

Capt Lauren Schlichting, a F-15E Strike Eagle pilot who took part in the flypast, commented, “We definitely don't take it lightly to be able to honour those who came before us and we’re happy to do it.”

 

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