USAF F111 crash nr Newmarket - 1970s - 1980s

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Evening all,
In the Seventies a USAF aircraft crashed at Scaltback School nr Newmarket, it may have been a F111, the pilot ejected. Apoligies a shot in the dark, does anyone have any information, please?
Tony K

Original post
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Unlikely to be an F-111 as (except early models) they had a two crew escape module, not ejection seats. Obviously depends on the accuracy of the reporting, but one crewmember can't eject - sadly only one may survive, of course.

Sorry can't help further.

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I remember one of my friends telling me about the time a jet crashed at his school in Newmarket, I guess the end of the seventies would have been about the right time. If I remember correctly he said two aircraft were flying in close formation until they hit and one went into the ground. Seem to recall him saying it was an F111 but he isn't an expert on planes. Haven't seen him in a long time so I cant ask him.

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the f111 escape pod at dumfries was apparently used in anger in the uk, i wonder if this is the one?

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Is it my fickle memory or is there an escape pod at Duxford?
I'm sure I've seen one somewhere.

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Yes i think you could be right James... possibly in the AAM next to the resident F-111.

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Many thanks to all for that information. DGH, my daughter, son in law and grandaughter are visiting us in Dublin at present he tells me that he and my grandaughter attended that school but could not remember the date.
Thanks again
Tony K

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I went to Scaltback school later in the 80's! I clearly remember the later crash in 1987 as I watched the two F-111s collide over Newmarket before one crashed and the other headed off back towards RAF Lakenheath. The one the crashed came down right next to a friends house and burnt out without causing any real damage to the place itself.

My Dad who was a Paramedic at Newmarket Ambulance Station was first on the scene of the escape capsule and having extacted the crew from the capsule and being in the course of treating them had an 'interesting' conversation with a USAF officer who turned up and started ordering everbody about and going on about a button or somesuch in the capsule that would blow the parachute pack off but if used on land would launch the capsule a considerable distance forward. I think this lead to a closer sharing of information between the USAF and the local emergency services.

If anyone is interested I can ask him if he remembers much more about it.

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Is it my fickle memory or is there an escape pod at Duxford?
I'm sure I've seen one somewhere.

Yes there is, along side the F111...

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Mike be interesting to hear more.
Presumably that was some method of ejecting the parachute attachment in case of landing in water?

Roger Smith.

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Presumably that was some method of ejecting the parachute attachment in case of landing in water?

There's plenty on the net. The only bit I remember is that the stick became a pump handle to bail out the module after a water landing, and it was traditional for the pilot to claim his stick 'didn't work' and hand over to his oppo...

http://www.f-111.net/ejection.htm


In the 1960s and 1970s, the F-111 and B-1A introduced the method of jettisoning the entire front fuselage as a means of crew escape. The crew remains strapped in the cabin, unencumbered by a parachute harness, while 27,000 lbf (120 kN) of thrust from rockets pushes the module out into the air. Multiple large parachutes bring the capsule down, in a manner very similar to the Launch Escape System of the Apollo spacecraft. On landing, an airbag system cushions the landing. In the event of a water landing the airbag acts as a flotation device; on land, the airbag is also usable as a shelter. Only the F-111 retains this feature in service.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_crew_capsule

http://www.f-111.net/ejection.htm

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I wondered, before posting, if someone would jump on me :(

JDK my answer to Mike was more to encourage dialogue with his father about the incident than falling prey to my laziness.

Roger Smith.

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Fair enough. ;)

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The explosive charge was used to release the parachute in case of landing in water, to aviod the capsule being dragged by the wind. However, if it were activated on land the force could apparantly cause the capsule to be blown some distance!

IIRC the crash in the 70's had resulted in requests from the emergency services for more information about these escape pods as it was the local ambulance crews who would have to deal with them in the event of a crash. This information wasn't forthcoming and the issue came to a head with the crash in 1987.

I am seeing my Dad later today so I'll see what else he remembers.

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I must admit this is the first time that I have seen reference to the crew not wearing parachutes.
The escape pod system is a great one when all is going to plan, but if the capsules (quite a fair proportion of the forward fusalage) was damaged in any accident or combat action, or failed to release through damaged systems it seems there wasn't any other way of bailing out?
I guess in that era there were few combat aircraft that you could actually 'bail out' of I suppose.

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I spoke to my Dad last night and this is how he recalls the story; Newmarket Ambulance station recieved a call from their control room stating that there had been an aircraft crash on Bury Road and that the escape capsule had landed on Bury Hill. The crew on duty went to the capsule and were there within a few minutes (it is only a couple of miles from the location of the old ambulance station to Bury Hill). When they arrived they set about stabalising the two crew members one of whom, the Pilot Captain Scott Lewis, had suffered severe back injuries (it later tuned out he had a severe spinal compression injury). Shortly afterwards a military helicopter arrived and landed. One of the crewmen, the winchman, came from the helicopter with a radio and asked who was in charge. My Dad said he was and the winchman relayed that information via radio to the medical centre at RAF Lakenheath. The helicopter crewman also had a large piece of kit which he put into the capsule which fitted over all the instrument displays and covered them. Whether this was for safety or secrecy or both wasn't mentioned! The medical centre at Lakenheath advised that a medical team was on route to the scene. However at this point Captain Lewis’ condition started to rapidly deteriorate with a fall in blood pressure. It was decided to remove him from the capsule. It was at this point that the officer at Lakenheath started sending messages that he was to be left in the capsule and that the USAF medical team would remove him. After a heated exchange through the helicopter winchman the Ambulance crew decided he needed to be removed as his condition was continuing to worsen and there was no word on the arrival of the medical team. Using a spinal board and various other bits of kit he was carefully removed and transfered to the helicopter along with the other crewman who had far fewer injuries. The helicopter then flew both crewmembers to RAF Lakenheath along with a MAGPAS doctor who had also arrived on the scene. Several weeks later my Dad was over at RAF Lakenheath and went to reclaim the spinal board and kit that they had used on the two crewmembers. He went to the hospital where the officer in charge told him that the treatment Captain Lewis had received whilst in the capsule and his prompt, and safe, removal made a huge difference to his chances of successful recovery. "This could just be flattery as the Americans were always keen to be complementary when dealing with the Ambulance crews" is what my Dad said about these comments (As a lot of military personel and their families lived off base there was always a fair amount of contact between the ambulance service and the base medical facilities). Dad was later told that Captain Lewis returned to flying duties but was unable to continue on fast jets due to his injuries. Who the Officer was who got rather heated on the day was never discovered I guess whoever he was he chose to keep his mouth shut when he realised that the correct course of action had been taken?

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Thanks for posting that _Mike_. I also witnessed the event in '87 as I was working to the south of Newmarket (Kirtling), and remember hearing the two F111s and looking up an instant before they disappeared into a cloud. I remember my first thought was " Christ, they're close" - I know perspective can be deceiving, but from where I was it appeared there was literally inches between the wingtips!

A few seconds later one of them dropped below the cloud in an orange ball of flame - I only got a glimpse really as I was in a low place, and it dropped out of sight behind a hill. I did see the capsule descend, but didn't fully take it all in. I think I was struggling to comprehend what I had seen - at the time it seemed unreal.

I seem to think a Herc circled round a while later -not absolutely sure though (long time ago now!).

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I grew up in Newmarket during the seventies and remember the scoltback school crash. I don't remember the date but im pretty sure it was in 1977.
It wasn't an F-111 but an f-4 and I'd heard that one of the crew landed on the roof of Budgens supermarket in town.
I was at school about a mile from the crash and remeber hearing it during lunchtime, it was loud enough for everyone to run out the dining hall to see what happened.
Hope this helps.

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1977 F-111F Newmarket Crash

For all those curious about the F-111 crash in Newmarket in December of 1977, I was the Weapons System Officer on that day. My pilot, Capt Jerry Kemp and I, Capt Tom Bergam experienced hydraulic failure which caused the aircraft to pitch straight up and then into a spin. We ejected and our first and foremost concern was for the safety of those on the ground. Thank heavens, no one was injured. Although the accident occurred more than 30 years ago, I still remember it vividly.