US Air Force launches Weston Hills crash probe

A USAF F15 fighter jet crashed in an area of Weston Hills.
A USAF F15 fighter jet crashed in an area of Weston Hills.
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UPDATE THURSDAY 5.10PM: A high-level investigation into how a US fighter jet crashed in an area of Weston Hills is now underway.

People living and working in the village watched in horror as an F-15D Eagle all-weather, tactical fighter plunged from the sky and onto the ground, not far from Weston Hills Primary School and Honeypot Day Nursery and Pre-school.

Firefighters at the scene of a fighter jet crash in a field in Weston Hills'.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Firefighters at the scene of a fighter jet crash in a field in Weston Hills'. Photo by Tim Wilson.

A statement from the US Air Force said: “An F-15D Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, crashed at approximately 3:28 p.m while conducting a combat training mission.

“One person was on board the aircraft at the time and ejected safely.

“A board of qualified officers will investigate the accident and additional details will be provided as soon as they become available.”

THURSDAY 2PM: Police have put a cordon in place around the site where a US Air Force F-15 fighter jet crashed in Weston Hills.

Officers from the Ministry of Defence Police team and Lincolnshire Police are securing the site while air crash investigators try to find out what caused the F-15D Eagle from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk to come down in a field at about 3.30pm yesterday. Insp Jim Tyner, community policing inspector for South Holland, said: “It is very important that the forensic integrity of the scene is maintained in order that air crash investigators can carry out their work.

“Anyone discovered breaching the cordon could find themselves in serious trouble and any attempt by souvenir hunters to remove parts of the debris will be treated as theft.

Meanwhile, police visited children and staff at Weston Hills Primary School this morning to reassure them about their safety in the aftermath of the crash.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Jane Fitzgerald said: “I am very happy to be able to reassure you that the children and staff are all safe and that there was no damage to the school.

“No doubt the children will be talking about the crash for the next few days, which is to be expected for such an unusual event.

“But we appreciate your support in reassuring them and making sure they do not worry about it unduly.”

Insp Tyner added: “Yesterday’s events were clearly a traumatic time for the school so Bobby Bear came along to give certificates of bravery to the children.”

THURSDAY 10AM: People living in and driving through Weston Hills face continued disruption today after an American F15 fighter jet crashed down in the village.

Drivers are unable to travel to Weston Hills on the A16 at Mill Drove North, part of which is closed along with a section of Broadgate.

Police are allowing youngsters and parents attending Honeypot Day Nursery and Pre-school, but only from Fengate Drove and Old Fendyke Road.

Weston Hills Primary School is open as normal, but diversions are in place as there is no access from the south and parents are advised to allow extra time for their journey.

Finally, the B1357 Moulton Chapel Road is open but there is no aaccss onto Broadgate.

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman thanked people for their patience while the closures and diversions are in place.

WEDNESDAY 6PM: An American F15 fighter jet has crashed in a field in Weston Hills near Spalding during a training flight this afternoon (8 October), narrowly missing houses and the local school.

The pilot on board ejected and was safely located.

Police cordoned off the area after the public contacted emergency services around 3.30pm to report that they had seen a jet come down in a field.

Thick black smoke was seen rising into the air from the crash site and an air ambulance was called to the scene.

A spokesman for the US Air Force confirmed that only one crewman was in the jet and he had been safely located.

He said: “An F-15D from the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath crashed at approximately at 3.28pm today while conducting a combat training mission.

“One person was on board the aircraft at the time and ejected safely. A board of qualified officers will investigate the accident.”

The jets have previously been seen carrying out combat training in the same area. Earlier this year a helicopter crew from RAF Lakenheath was killed in a crash in North Norfolk

RAF Lakenheath tweeted: “We can confirm that one of our jets went down north of base, in Lincolnshire. The pilot ejected and is safe.

“Our pilots train for every emergency to mitigate damage and injury.

“We hope they never have to use it, but we’re glad they have it.”

Graham Emery was at home in Broadgate when he heard the jet pass overhead. He said: “It came over really low and sounded as if the afterburners were on.

“The house was shaking and next thing we heard it crash in the field about a quarter of a mile away.

“We were lucky it didn’t hit us.”

Our reporter on the scene, Kat Wakefield, said: “An air ambulance is in attendance, all roads around Weston Hills have been closed by police, there is smoke everywhere, fire and rescue present. It’s an absolute nightmare.”

The plane cane down near Weston Hills Primary School. Jane Fitzgerald, headteacher, said: “The school is absolutely fine, nobody is injured and no property has been damaged.

“We can’t say anything else because that would be speculation on our part.”

Police are advising the public to avoid the area as the plane is alight and the fumes may be hazardous.

Residents nearby the crash site said on Twitter that they heard the plane’s engine “cut out” before crashing to the ground.

@bigtommmm said: “I heard a planes engine cut out over Spalding then 10 minutes later it’s crashed in west one hills woah.”

Adrian Done tweeted: “Working in Spalding and an army plane has just crashed in the next field”

Lucy Chesworth tweeted: “Literally just seen an RAF plane go down and crash and pilots parachuting out, ran to help, man that was terrifying, shaking like a leaf.”

Roger Smith said: “The plane crashed literally 100 feet from my mums school... Right near some houses. Police say only 1 pilot was in it, but we saw 2 parashoots.

He added: “It was scary, i tell you that, being 100 meters away and seeing it crashing, not a good day”

The US Air Force confirmed that it was a US jet that crashed and the pilot was ejected. she added that he was safe.

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