An air show during the Stockholm Water Festival in 1993 could have ended in catastrophe but miraculously, it missed almost everyone.
Långholmen, a lush green island located in central Stockholm is an oasis for the city’s population, popular for walks, picnics, and swimming. This was abruptly interrupted on August 8th, 1993 when a massive explosion hit the island. It was a Gripen fighter jet that had stalled during a slow-speed maneuver in a display over downtown Stockholm as part of the Stockholm Water Festival. Almost 500,000 spectators saw the pilot eject, the plane fall to the ground, and a black cloud of smoke from the fire rise up over the city. But for all the smoke and fire, miraculously the plane landed in a forested part of the island, right next to the Västerbron bridge, and only one person was injured. The pilot even escaped harm by ejecting, although his parachute got stuck in a tree.
The aircraft had just been delivered to the Swedish Air Force from the Swedish Defense Material Administration in June, only two months before the crash. This plane was, however, flown by a test pilot and was classified as a crash during testing.
Today, the spot of the crash is marked by a stainless steel sculpture of a paper plane buried nose first into a plinth. What could have caused a disaster that day in August 1993, in a big city with hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch the air show, only ended up causing minor injuries, a crater in a forest, and a sculpture of a crashed paper plane.
Know Before You Go
The metro station closest to the site is Hornstull on the red line south of Stockholm central station. From there it's less than 10 minutes walk north to Långholmen.