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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Witnesses describe Concorde 'fireball'
Black smoke and flames poured from the plane
Eyewitnesses have described the scenes of utter devastation after an Air France Concorde plane crashed near Paris minutes after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport.

Dave Ingram, from Gloucester, who was in the French capital on business, saw the supersonic jet come down as he emerged from a Hilton Hotel near the airport.

Concorde crash site
All the passengers were German
He said: "There was tremendous smoke and flames coming out of the back of the aircraft as it proceeded down the runway.

"It seemed to put its nose skywards, stalled and fell from our vision. It was then silent for seconds and then a plume of smoke could be seen coming from where the aircraft had unfortunately crashed."

30-foot flames

British eyewitness Julian Pyke, who works at Charles de Gaulle airport described a 30-foot sheet of flames shooting from the aircraft's wing immediately after take-off.


It's one of those experiences where everybody looks at everybody else with a 'this shouldn't be happening sort of feeling'

Julian Pyke
Eyewitness

He said: "I was in Charles de Gaulle in the cargo area, the plane flew overhead from where I was sitting, about 500 feet from the ground - it was obvious it had just taken off.

"The overriding thing about it was out of the right wing there was 30 feet of flames shooting out of the back of it.

Mr Pyke told BBC Radio Five Live that there was a feeling of huge shock at the airport.

"It's one of those experiences where everybody looks at everybody else with a 'this shouldn't be happening sort of feeling'.

"I think a lot of people were waiting for a big bang which never came - I still don't know how, but a very large plume of smoke swiftly arose and it was obvious that it had crashed."

'Catastrophic failure'

US pilot Sid Hare, who also witnessed the crash outside Paris from a nearby hotel, told CNN: "I knew it was in trouble, the left side of the engine bank, there are four engines on the Concorde, and the left side, number one and number two engines, one of those obviously had a catastrophic failure.


When it hit, there was just a huge fireball, like a mini-atomic bomb went up, and it was really just a sickening sight

Sid Hare
US pilot
"It was trailing flames, 200 to 300 feet behind the aeroplane. It probably wiped out the other engine next to it, so the aeroplane was then trying to climb on only two out of four engines.

"And it just couldn't gain altitude. He kept trying to get the nose up to gain altitude, which eventually caused a stall, the nose pitched straight up in the air, and the aeroplane just started rolling over and back-sliding down toward the ground.

"At that point, where the crash site was, is probably two miles from me, and I couldn't see the hotel it's reported to have crashed into.

"But it was a sickening sight. When it hit, there was just a huge fireball, like a mini-atomic bomb went up, and it's really just a sickening sight."

'Roaring noise'

A British eyewitness told of hearing a roaring noise and seeing plumes of smoke billowing "a thousand feet high".

Businessman Jamie Ritchie witnessed the crash from the window of an office where he was having a meeting.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "From the meeting window we overheard a very loud roaring noise.


There was a large plume of smoke some 1,000ft high

Jamie Ritchie
Eyewitness
"We saw very briefly the tail of Concorde, and we saw something fall from the tail into an open field that was on fire, and then the plane crashed.

"I don't think it went into a hotel, but it was too far away to tell at this distance.

"And then there was a large plume of smoke some thousand feet high.

Frederic Savery, 21, was driving along the highway on the way home when he saw the plane go down near Gonesse, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) north-east of central Paris.

He said: "I saw the plane, it passed 30 metres (60 feet) above us, the whole back end of the plane was on fire."

"We saw it start to turn, but we didn't hear a noise when it crashed. All of a sudden, everything was black, we stopped right there and called the fire-fighters."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
George Baudrey - Dir of Air Navigation at Air France
"Very difficult to establish facts"
Eyewitness, Dave Ingram
"A thunderous roar"
Eyewitness, Sid Hare
"There was a sound like a mini atomic bomb"
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"The 92 Germans who died are now more than just names in a newspaper"
The Concorde Crash

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash

INTERACTIVE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

FORUM

FROM THE ARCHIVE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

25 Jul 00 | Europe
25 Jul 00 | UK
25 Jul 00 | UK
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