Fighter jet crash: Pilot error and poor visibility led to F-15 tragedy off Flamborough, investigation finds

Pilot error and reduced visibility caused an American fighter jet to crash into the sea off the East Coast, an investigation has found.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 11:07 am
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 11:10 am
Flamborough Head

Lifeboat crews from Scarborough and Bridlington were among those sent out to search for First Lieutenant Kenneth Allen when his F-15C Eagle went into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough on June 15 this year.

He did not survive the crash and the aircraft was destroyed.

An investigation report into the accident, released by United States Air Forces in Europe, said the accident happened during a routine local combat training flight.

It said: “The cause of the mishap was the pilot’s fixation on the intercept of the simulated adversary aircraft and failure to execute cockpit instrument visual scans when the pilot encountered Instrument Meteorological Conditions.

“Reduced visibility and a lack of a discernible horizon for the pilot resulted in spatial disorientation.

“The inability of the pilot to accurately sense the pitch attitude of the aircraft due to spatial disorientation significantly contributed to the pilot’s undesirable low pitch attitude, rapidly descending altitude, and the resulting mishap.”

General Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, said: “This unfortunate accident is yet another reminder of the inherent risks airmen take on a daily basis to ensure the successes of our air force.

“Lieutenant Allen was an outstanding officer and a tremendous asset to the team. No words can compensate for such a painful and sudden loss.”

Lieutenant Allen was serving with the USAF’s 48th Fighter Wing. The airman - the assistant chief of weapons and tactics for his squadron - had been based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk since February.

Colonel Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, added: “The loss of an airman is never easy, and this aircraft accident was no exception.

“Our Liberty Wing community, especially the Reapers of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, was truly touched by the tremendous outpouring of support from families, friends and partners around the globe in our time of grieving.”