air show toronto crash nimrod

That time the Toronto Air Show ended in terrifying disaster

The Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) has been a beloved summer tradition since the postwar years, but the annual display of warplanes performing aerobatics hasn't always gone according to plan.

There have been nine recorded accidents and incidents in the 75-year history of the CIAS (and four more related incidents during practice), including crashes resulting in deaths in 1953, 1966, 1977, 1989, and most recently in 1995.

Though the 1966 crash was particularly grisly — a U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot was killed when his Grumman F-11 Tiger slammed into a breakwater at the Island Airport — the 1995 incident is perhaps the most remembered.

Twenty-seven years ago to the day, on Sept. 2, 1995, a Royal Air Force Hawker Siddeley Nimrod smashed into the waters of Lake Ontario while performing an aerial display, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.

The 1995 crash was far from the first loss of life during an Air Show weekend in Toronto, but thanks to the rise of affordable personal camcorders in the 1980s and 90s, the incident was captured in all its horror from multiple angles.

Amid an aerial manoeuvre known as a "dumb-bell turn," the maritime patrol aircraft fell below its stall speed and began to lose altitude. Unable to recover from the stall, the aircraft crashed into the lake, killing all aboard.

A 3D reconstruction of the accident provides a detailed breakdown of the events leading up to the crash.

As of 2022, the crash marked the last time a pilot or crew was killed while performing at the annual air show, though there have been three incidents in the years since.

In 1998, a Canadian Forces SkyHawks Parachute team member was injured during a demonstration jump, while two separate incidents involving aircraft en route to the display occurred in 2000.

Lead photo by

CityTV. Writing by Jack Landau.

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