Richard Hammond reflects on horror 2006 crash as he explains why he refuses to fly jet engines

Richard Hammond reflects on horror 2006 crash as he explains why he refuses to fly jet engines

Richard Hammond on his new podcast with his daughter

Olivia Gantzer

By Olivia Gantzer

Published: 28/02/2024

- 22:42

The former Top Gear star was left in a coma for two weeks in 2006

Richard Hammond has opened up on the reason he refuses to fly jet engines as he reflected on the near-fatal car crash he was in back in 2006.

While he's been in several serious accidents, the former Top Gear star, 54, was in a coma for two weeks 18 years ago after he crashed a high speed dragster.

Hammond, who starred in BBC's Top Gear from 2002 to 2015, suffered serious head injuries after the jet-powered vehicle crashed at almost 320mph. The presenter and car enthusiast has explained how he is now brought back to the horrifying moment by the sound of jet engines.

The mechanic was conscious during the frightening crash and explained recently: “I fly helicopters but I don’t like flying jet rangers, because the way they start sounds exactly the same way that the jet car started.”

Speaking on the Who We Are Now With Izzy and Richard Hammond podcast, he told former British Formula One diver Mark Blundell about how he felt during the accident as the two shared their similar experiences.

Blundell, who was involved terrifying crash in Rio de Janeiro in 1996, reflected on his own near-death experience.

Richard Hammond

Hammond starred in Top Gear from 2002 to 2015


He explained: “So I was conscious throughout the whole thing. The only thing that really sticks in my mind was the noise because of the impact of a car hitting concrete and that’s the thing that actually like rattled my brain.

“When people talk about how 'everything slows down...' it didn’t slow down. It was real time and it was me panicking to understand what I could do, I tried to hit my teammate, missed him, because I knew that hitting the concrete at that speed I was going to die.

“I hit the concrete, bent the wheel in half, like all the crazy things you hear about, kids picking up cars because their parents are trapped underneath.

“But actually, it was the split moment of numbers up.” Relating to the situation, Hammond went on to say he felt “totally the same”.

Richard and Mindy Hammond

Hammond reflected on why he refuses to fly jet engines


“I was completely calm, I’d done everything I could do,” he recalled.

“I’ve pulled the parachute, I’d steered, braked, it was going upside down, there’s no roof and I thought ‘Oh, checking out now’. No panic at that point, panic had gone, I’d done everything.”

Due to his own experience, Hammond was able to sympathise with more recent Top Gear star Freddie Flintoff, who was also involved in a near-fatal Top Gear accident.

“I feel for the guy and it sounds like a really traumatic accident and a horrible experience. I only ever wish him all the best from it," Hammond recently told Times Radio.

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May

Trio Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May starred in Top Gear before they launched the Grand Tour in 2016


He continued: "I had a couple of bad ones, but accidents do happen, you know. They went through our systems and protocols very closely and we weren’t found wanting because the fact of the matter is, sometimes things do go wrong.

"It is fundamental to what we do. I don’t think [cars] appeal will ever diminish and therefore taking a well mitigated, a well-controlled risk, I think, is excusable and in the knowledge that sometimes it’s going to go wrong."

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