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Shoreham air crash pilot skilled with 12,000 hours of flying

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The pilot of the Hawker Hunter jet that crashed at Shoreham is a skilled aerobatic flyer who is a regular at air shows up and down the country.

Andy Hill flies for British Airways and is a highly skilled former RAF instructor with more than 12,000 hours of flying experience.

The 51-year-old is in a critical condition in hospital after his plane slammed into the A27 in West Sussex yesterday, ploughing through cars on the busy road as it burst into a huge fireball.

Police fear that 11 people are "highly likely" to have died in the tragedy.

Mr Hill has years of flying experience, having worked as a light aircraft test pilot, an RAF Harrier GR7 instructor, a commercial pilot captaining Airbus planes and as a stunt and aerobatic display pilot.

David Wildridge, who flew with the Tiger Nine display earlier in yesterday's show, told the Chichester Observer: "Andy Hill was a British Airways captain and very well thought of.

"He is a highly experienced pilot, well-known and well-loved. He is highly professional and it is totally unusual for this to happen. He was a Harrier pilot in the air force. They are the top RAF pilots - the best of the best."

Mr Wildridge, who also flew Hawker Hunter jets in the RAF, added : "It is very emotional for us. The Hunters have a characteristic sound. When everything is right you hear it and that is what we heard as it made its first pass above the airfield."

He also said that Mr Hill's wife had also worked as a British Airways captain.

Mr Hill works as a pilot offering flight experiences to the public for the company Ultimate High.

According to its website he began his career flying Bulldogs on a university air squadron, and after excelling on fast jet training was picked to go straight into instructing on the BAC Jet Provost, a jet-powered trainer aircraft used by the RAF.

He then operated the Harrier GR5 and GR7 jets in Germany, and has flown Airbus A340 and Boeing 757 and 767 airliners, working as a captain for Airbus.

Ultimate High's website said: "He is a very experienced formation instructor and display pilot, and regularly displays the RV-8, Jet Provost and Hunter."

Mr Hill also works as an aerobatic stunt pilot as part of the flying duo the RV8tors, which perform close formation aerobatic displays at speeds of up to 230mph.

The RV8tors - Mr Hill and fellow display pilot Alister Kay - perform at events, private functions and weddings in RV-8 aircraft, small two-seat, home-built planes.

A profile of Mr Hill on the company's website said: "In 2011, as well as displaying with the RV8tors, Andy flew formation displays in the Hunter and Bulldog, and solo aerobatic displays in the Jet Provost.

"Andy and his wife Ellie took two years to build their RV-8, both are airline captains with over 12,000 hours each, and now building an RV-3."