Friday, March 07, 2014

Zivko Edge 540T, N149WA: Accident occurred March 07, 2014 at Doha-Al Khor Airstrip

‘Poor light or bad weather not behind Al Khor crash’

 “It wasn’t the weather or poor light conditions that caused the tragic accident of Tamas Nadas. He has performed under such conditions hundreds of times,” said Saad Hakim, director of sales and marketing at Westland Morgan, the company that brought the world champion aerobatic pilot for the performance at the Al Khor airstrip.  

Following the death of Tamas in a crash while performing an upside-down stunt on Friday as part of Qatar Racing Club’s Qatar Mile event, Saad said: “What happened is a complete mystery to us, we don’t know how this happened. An upside-down stunt has a huge ‘wow’ factor for us ordinary folk, but for a seasoned performer like Tamas, it is a simple manoeuvre as there is no G-force involved. The aeroplane that Tamas was flying was in perfect condition and Tamas himself was both mentally and physically in ‘top’ condition. It was his third routine for the day, following a test round and one performance round.”

“As a seasoned pilot he would have definitely known if there was something wrong. Having worked with him in the past, I know how particular he is about all details related to safety. Just before he was going to take off for the fateful round, Tamas looked and sounded very confident and was in fact raring to go,” added Saad in a state of complete shock.  

Hungary-based Tamas has a very strong fan base in Europe. Referring to the aerobatic pilot’s plans for the future, Saad said: “Tamas had recently purchased a new plane for his performance in the upcoming European championship in July, which incidentally is not the plane he was flying here at Al Khor. As for Tamas’ dream – it was to have a world championship in Qatar, titled the ‘Skymasters World Championship’. He had hoped that it would be the coming together of the ‘masters of the art’.

“The idea was to invite 12 of the top pilots from around the world for the event. This championship was to be conducted in two categories: one would be a regular aerobatic championship with judges and scoring cards, etc. The other category would involve a more exciting concept - the idea was to define virtual air-tracks in the sky; two pilots would then go through this route and be judged based on their speed, style and performance. The whole thing was his idea. As a matter of fact, we had been in conversation with the authorities in Qatar regarding this. We might still go ahead with this idea in Europe  – naming it after him. We believe he would have liked it. This was to be the real thing, with no marketing strategy involved.”

Saad said the passing away of Tamas was a huge loss. “His family was not here in Qatar and were not at the venue watching the event. They are in Hungary. We are in touch with them and trying to get all the paperwork done. We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the civil aviation authorities, Qatar Racing Club and all the authorities and officials involved. They have been a tremendous source of support.”

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World champion aerobatic pilot Tamas Nadas died in a plane crash while performing a daring stunt at Al Khor airstrip yesterday.

Hungarian Nadas, popularly known as the “Schumacher of the sky”, was flying his plane upside down above the runway as part of a race with a sports car when it spun out of control and hit the ground.

Rescue teams rushed to the spot but were unable to save the 44-year-old’s life, casting a pall of gloom on the high-octane world of aerobatics of which he had been a star for several years.

He was an expert at flying several types of single-seater aircraft and it was not immediately clear what model he was piloting when the tragedy happened.

The stunt was part of the Qatar Racing Club organized Qatar Mile event which was billed as the “biggest speed festival of the region”.

Qatar Racing Club posted a message on its Facebook page last night condoling Nadas’ death. Today’s races in the two-day event have been cancelled following the tragedy.

“On behalf of Qatar Racing Club we would like to inform you that the Qatar Mile will not take place tomorrow (Saturday) as scheduled,” the statement said. “This is in respect for the courageous pilot Tamas Nadas who unfortunately lost his life today in the airshow doing what he loved. We would like to express our deepest condolences and our prayers are with his family and friends, may his soul rest in peace.”

Racing enthusiast Mubasher Zaman, who saw the plane hit the ground, told Gulf Times that it was Nadas’ second stunt of the day.

The plane was flying upside down very close to the runway and I thought it wobbled a little before crashing to the ground at the end of the airstrip. I immediately knew it was going to be serious,” said Zaman. He added that it was held late in the afternoon and probably the twilight must have contributed to the tragedy.

Zaman said Nadas’ family was also watching his show at the venue. “He had thrilled the crowd during his first stunt, but the second went horribly wrong. It’s a sad day, a horrible tragedy especially it happened when his family were at the venue,” he said.

Another witness, Hugo Nascimento, also told Gulf Times that the plane was flying too close to the ground.

“The pilot was Hungarian Tamas Nadas and he was flying upside down, close to the runway when the plane crashed. I was too far away to see in detail. May he rest in peace,” Nascimento said.

Earlier the Ministry of Interior had tweeted that an accident had taken place at Al Khor airstrip. However, the tweet didn’t have the pilot’s name, merely stating that he was of European nationality.

Nadas was a regular at stunt shows in the Gulf and had performed in Qatar as recently as last January when he wowed spectators at the seventh Al Khor Fly-In.

Nadas himself had posted a few pictures only a couple of hours before his death on his Facebook page. Those pictures, however, were not connected to yesterday’s event at Al Khor airstrip.

He got hooked to flying after a pleasure flight in 1998 when he was 28 years old and got his pilot’s license the very same year after which he decided to pursue a career in aerobatics.

In a January interview with Gulf Times, Nadas had said he took to aerobatics because “straight flying” didn’t excite him very much.

“Initially, I had absolutely no interest in flying at all. My first experience with flying was in 1998 when I was 28. I had just gone along with friend for a joy ride. That was the turning point - the experience had such an impact on me that I was totally hooked. I enrolled for flying lessons right away and after 30 days had earned my own license,” he had said.

“However, just straight-forward flying wasn’t satisfactory enough, so I went on to learning aerobatic manoeuvres and stunts. This is where my passion lies.”

Nadas had also added that he was a self-taught aerobat.

“The single biggest challenge was that some of the stunts that I now perform were not taught to me by any instructor - they are all self-taught. I had to risk my life as I tried some of these challenging manoeuvres. There have been several occasions when I felt I was going straight down, but thankfully I would somehow regain control at the last minute”, Tamas had said.

Unfortunately, fate willed otherwise yesterday.

Tamas Nadas’ achievements

2009:  Hungarian Championship: gold medal

European Championship programme Q: gold medal

International Cup silver medal

Mediterranean Cup bronze medal

2010:  Hungarian Championship gold medal

World Championship: overall 8th place

2011 :  Hungarian Championship: gold medal

Hungarian Aviation Association Aerobatics Pilot of the Year

2012 : Hungarian Championship: gold medal

10th FAI World Advanced Aerobatic Championship Programme Free: gold medal

2013 :  Hungarian Aviation Association: Aerobatics Pilot of the Year

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