Pilot who wowed Kenyans at Nairobi airshow dies in action in Zimbabwe

Mark Sampson (third from left) with his team at Wilson Airport last week.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The Marksmen aerobatic team has lost one of its pilots in an airshow at a small private airfield in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Mark Sampson, identified by the crew as number 4, died on Tuesday evening at Charles Prince airfield while performing a solo display towards the end of the team's aerobatics display.

"It is with great sadness and profound sense of loss that today, the Marksmen aerobatic team can confirm that Mark Sampson, outstanding aviator, honoured team member, trusted number-4 and loyal friend died in a flying incident in Harare Zimbabwe," the team announced in a statement on their Facebook page.

The unfortunate incident happened barely days after their spectacular performance at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on Saturday last week during the Kenya Defence Forces in conjunction with the aero club of East Africa airshow.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The unfortunate incident happened barely days after their spectacular performance at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on Saturday last week during the Kenya Defence Forces in conjunction with the aero club of East Africa airshow.

"The marksmen aerobatic team is devastated and we are currently working with Zimbabwean authorities," the statement added.

Flying club

Zimbabwean media reports indicate that the four were taking part in a sunsets aerobatics display for the Mashonaland flying club when the tragedy struck.

"The plane is seen spinning several times and getting out of control when the pilot levels up and tries to make a climb. It crashed nose-first in front of horrified aviation enthusiasts who initially assumed it was all part of the show," a media report said.

The team was on its way back to Cape Town when the incident happened during the sunset show in Harare.

In Kenya, the four will be remembered for their spectacular manoeuvres in the skies including sky spins, flying upside down, forming heart, loop and chandelier patterns in the skies and flying so close without the planes the coming into contact.

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