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Jet pilot crashes into Dutch greenhouse

This might be the most remarkable story in the greenhouse industry this year; a jet pilot of a Swiss aerobatic demonstration team crashed into the greenhouse of a Dutch grower in Friesland yesterday. The jet crashed into a pond next to the greenhouse. The pilot is in the hospital, but aside from some cuts and a broken ankle, he is doing well under the circumstances.

The Swiss jets were practicing above the greenhouse for an air show this weekend when two of the jets collided. Just before one of them crashed, the pilot escaped using the ejection seat. He landed amidst the bell peppers in the eleven hectare greenhouse.

The startled grower, Jaap Vink, says it's a miracle that no more people were injured. "A group of 25 employees were just harvesting peppers near the crash site, when suddenly they heard a strong explosion caused by the collision. Shortly after, both the pilot and the ejection seat crashed through the roof of the greenhouses, not far from the pickers."

Action movie scenario

Grower Vink speaks about a scenario that you would not even see in an action movie. He is glad that the pilot did all he could to prevent the jet from crashing into the greenhouse or his house. "It crashed only sixty meters from our house, my daughter saw a giant explosion when it came down. We were all shocked, but are glad that we lived to tell the tale."

The pilot is doing well under the circumstances. "He fell through the glass, but also through the screen which was closed at the time. Aside of cuts caused by the glass, he also broke his ankle."

Today the work already continued on the farm, but with some extra guests: many police and military are present in the greenhouse. "They are busy with their investigation and guarding the crash site. I think we have more guards than the King now."

Not the first time

While the remarkable crash in Friesland sounds like a film scenario, it's not the first time that a jet pilot crashed into a greenhouse. On September 13, 1962, British jet fighter pilot George Aird also got into trouble during a demonstration flight. His jet also crashed near a greenhouse, in Hatfield.

And the pilot? He also ejected himself and plummeted through the glass, after which a tomato crop broke his fall. After he recovered from his injuries, two broken legs, he was already flying within 6 months. Hopefully the Swiss pilot will also recover soon like his British colleague!