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Hermano Lobo
16th Feb 2006, 09:51
I have just discovered an article in BBC 'Inside Out' about a crashed Lightning in the North Sea during September 1970.

What is strange is that the Lightning which was on exercise with an American exchange pilot was relatively undamaged when pulled from the sea and the canopy closed with no pilot !

Is there an AIB report that can be read on the net ?

It seems highly irregular ?

No conspiracy or weird theories please, just fact ?

Source:BBC Inside Out - Yorkshire & Lincolnshire: Monday 16th September, 2002

Hermano Lobo
16th Feb 2006, 10:29
Thanks Fox3snapshot I already know that link.

I went to a lecture by Tony Dodd about ten years ago.
He seems to know what he is talking about.

I would actually like to look at an AIB report. I don't trust the BBC's spin on it as I have a couple of friends who used to work there. The BBC is subject to 'Official' influence.

from the BBC site:"The Lightning aircraft was recovered three months later from the seabed. Remarkably, it was virtually undamaged.
The cockpit canopy was shut but there was no sign of Captain Schaffner’s body."

There are a few things that just don't add up ?:confused:

16th Feb 2006, 10:54
Sorry Hermano, I took it off after I finished reading your post realising you didn't want the "out there" stuff. But for anyone interested...


Does seem bizarre though :ooh:

16th Feb 2006, 11:32
Having been a fighter controller for 25 years, including at Staxton, that´s the biggest load of coswallop I´ve ever read. Anyone who knows RT terminology would realise that it bears no resemblance to real RT or reality.

IIRC, he was tasked to do a Phase 3 low level VID on the Shak. They surmised he got too low and slow and somehow ended up pancaking into the water. The straps were undone and the canopy unlocked. The surmise was that unstrapped, opened the canopy (the seat was a 90-90 seat) and got out and drifted away,succumbing to the cold. The aircraft then sank and the canopy slowly closed either on the way down or on the bottom.

Hermano Lobo
16th Feb 2006, 12:32

That sounds more like it but I thought the sea always gave up it's dead ?

Do you think the condition of the Lightning unusual ?


"They surmised he got too low and slow and somehow ended up pancaking into the water."

In a Lightning ?

Any reference to the A.I.B report ?

16th Feb 2006, 12:47
From Air Clues:

The pilot of the accident aircraft was a USAF exchange officer who had completed 2 tours on the USAF F-102 all weather fighter. He had accumulated 121 hours on the Lightning, of which 18 were at night. He had been declared Limited Combat Ready after only 8 weeks on the squadron; this unusually short period of time was based on his previous operational status as well as his performance thus far on the Lightning. The limitation on his operational status was partially due to the requirement to complete all the stages of the visident profiles; at the time of the accident, he was qualified in 2 of the 3 phases of visident, which meant that he would be capable of carrying out shadowing and shepherding tasks only if he was in visual contact with the target.

The Squadron was participating in a Taceval at RAF Binbrook and the squadron Cdr had authorised this pilot to participate, in the belief that he would not be involved in a shadowing or shepherding mission. However, unbeknown to the station or squadron, the Taceval team had just changed the exercise scenario from normal interceptions to shadowing or shepherding on slow speed low-flying targets. The targets were Shackletons flying at 160kts at the minimum authorised height of 1,500ft.

After maintaining one hour at cockpit readiness, the pilot was scrambled. While he was taxying, the scramble was cancelled and he returned to the dispersal, ordering fuel only and no turnround servicing. This was contrary to standing instructions and the engineering officer ordered a full turnround. The turnround was delayed and, during this delay, the pilot was warned that he would be scrambled as soon as he was ready. He told the groundcrew to expedite the servicing but started his engines and taxied before the servicing was complete. He got airborne at 20:30.

The pilot climbed to FL 100 and was handed over to GCI; he was then given a shadowing task against a 160kt target at 1,500ft. At a range of 28nm, he was told to accelerate to M.95 in order to expedite the take over from another Lightning. He called that he was in contact with the lights but would have to manoeuvre to slow down; his voice was strained, as though he was being affected by 'g'. His aircraft was seen by the other Lightning pilot; it appeared to be about 2,000yds astern and 500-1,000ft above the Shackleton, in a port turn. The Shackleton crew then saw the aircraft, apparently very low. Shortly afterwards, the Lightning pilot failed to acknowledge instructions and emergency procedures were initiated. A search by the Shackleton, and a further air/sea search the following day, failed to detect any trace of the aircraft or pilot.

The wreckage was located nearly 2 months later with surprisingly little damage. The canopy was attached and closed, and there was no sign of the pilot. The aircraft appeared to have struck the sea at a low speed, planed the surface and come to rest comparitively slowly. The ejection seat handle had been pulled to the full extent allowed by the interruptor link in the main gun sear. (The interruptor link ensures that the seat does not fire unless the canopy has gone). The canopy gun sear had been withdrawn but the cartridge had not been struck with sufficient force to fire it (during servicing the firing unit had been incorrectly seated because of damaged screw heads). The canopy had been opened normally, the QRB was undone, as was the PEC, and the PSP lanyard had been released from the life jacket.

It was concluded that the difficult task, carried out in rushed circumstances, combined with a lack of training in this profile, led to the pilot failing to monitor his height while slowing down. He had inadvertantly flown into the sea but had attempted to recover the situation by selecting reheat; this was ineffective with the tail skimming the water. He attempted to eject, but this was unsuccessful due to the canopy failing to jettison. He then manually abandoned the aircraft, but was never found. He was, therefore, presumed to have drowned during or after his escape.

Wing Commander Spry says. There are a number of points which are raised by this article, the first of which is do not believe all you read in the newspapers! Among the serious points to consider are the distractions and stress caused by the false scramble and interrupted turnround, as well as the supervisory failure of allowing a LCR pilot to participate in a Taceval by night. Close supervision during exercise conditions, in a single seat environment, is almost impossible. Minimum qualifications are laid down for a reason!

Ali Barber
16th Feb 2006, 13:11
Once watched a Lightining whip the wheels up too quick after take-off and settle back down with the reheats blazing. It dragged the jet pipes a long way before finally lifting off with fuel streaming out of the belly tank on fire. It happened several times with the Lightning, although most of them stayed down. The aircraft behaved normally for such a round bottomed aircraft and I believe everyone just stepped out at the end. The sea is pretty hard if you hit it at speed and I can easily see how it skimmed the surface and ended up on the water without breaking up. The rest of the accident report sounds plausible as well. The only unusual thing here is that there has never been any sign of the body.

Hermano Lobo
16th Feb 2006, 13:25
Thanks for the informative replies. :ok:

16th Feb 2006, 14:11
One has to remember that the Lightning was not equipped with a Rad Alt! As I recall we used the regional QNH so actual height above the water was unknown !! At higher speed the Stby Alt gave a more accurate reading as it had less pressure error!! Not only that, with AI23b it was all heads down with loads of range rings to decifer. That is if the damn thing remained locked on!!

Loads of "sixpence half a crown" contractions in uranus as I recall!!

But still good fun!!

Ali Barber
16th Feb 2006, 21:37
the Lightning did eventually get a rad alt, but not when this accident happened. The errors as I recall were at 600 kts, the altimeter overread by 1500ft, so to fly your minimum height at night of 1500ft you set zero on the altimeter. As you decelerated, the error was 1000ft at 550 kts, 700 ft at 500kts, 500ft at 400 kts and 400ft at 350kts. Altimeter finally told the truth at or below 300kts. If you were operating in mach, you subtracted 2 from the subsonic decimal and subtracted that in hundreds of feet from the level you wanted, i.e. Mach 0.9 level at 24,300 ([0.]9-2=7[hundred ft error]) on 1013 to fly at FL 250. Not complicated at all, especially at night, head down the radar scope, listening to a target broadcast and working out your own intercept, all with no NVGs. One week on days, one week on nights, all year round. First winter I shat myself constantly with so much night flying. Loved it after that, what a great aircraft! Don't get me going on the no belly tank christmas present flights with greater than one-to-one thrust at take off!

Ex Douglas Driver
16th Feb 2006, 23:23
There's just a little embellishing of the facts on the conspiracy site.... quite surprising, because I had always thought those types to be of stable mind.:hmm:

Nothing like being accosted by spotters at airshows and getting grilled about secretly chasing UFOs " 'cause I read on the net that you did that, and it's all a cover up by the western governments to steal the technology...".

Actually wasn't that you asking that Fox 3? :E

Hermano Lobo
17th Feb 2006, 09:43
Has anybody got any idea why the pilot was not found ? What about the inflatable life vest? With most operations of the Lightning over the North Sea and the valuable asset of a pilot I would have thought there would be a comprehensive amount of survival equipment ?

I am informed there are a number of Lightnings that went into the North Sea.

17th Feb 2006, 10:25
It would be a fair assumtion that even without an inflated mae west he would have floated quite happily in the immersion suit. (unless of course it was punctured on the exit, in which case would have mad a good anchor!!):\

19th Feb 2006, 21:29
I well remember this one. I was at Patrington on my first tour, and was on position beside the guy controlling the Ltg in question. It was a lousy night, stormy, driving rain, low cloud and high winds. We had all been called in because of the Tac Eval, and my Flt Cdr was controlling the Ltg that crashed. The Shac target came in low heading due West into the Staxton Wold overhead. The Ltg was under him because the AI23B radar gave a better picture looking up. At that height on look down all it would have seen was sea returns. Both a/c dissapeared into the overhead (about 30 mile radius of clutter) and the Ltg was called, but no reply. We got the Shac to double back and start a search, but nothing was found . The Shac stayed for several hours if I remember correctly. The Air Clues report gives the story, The pilot skimmed the sea, couldn't bang out, so opened the hood and jumped over the side. Over the next few weeks the lid closed gently and that was that. No idea why he wasn't found, but he didn't have his dingy pack, that stayed in the a/c, so if he couldn't inflate his Mae West, he wouldn't have survived for long in that sea. sad day for us all, and made such an impression on me that I remember it vividly after 36 odd years.
My old Flt Cdr is still around, and I see him from time to time. He was a damn good controller.
I am fairly sure that as a result of this they put a min speed of 200kts on Ltgs low level. Perhaps someone can comment on this??

Hermano Lobo
20th Feb 2006, 13:58
Interesting replies but there still seems to be some unanswered questions.

1) Why was the aircraft left in the sea for so long and why was it taken to Binbrook when all military aircraft were supposed to go to Farnborough for accident investigators to examine?

2) Why were the accident investigators not allowed access to the aircraft on their visit to Binbrook which was totally against MOD regulations.

3) When they were eventually allowed to see the aircraft they found that the ejector seat had been changed and that several instruments had been removed from the dash board, which once again was totally against regulations?

I hope someone can confirm or deny the three questions above ?

There are most likely logical answers to these questions, but it would be nice if thet could be cleared up ?

20th Feb 2006, 15:26
The reason it took so long to find the Ltg was first, the bad weather, and then locating the thing. A mine hunter did the job eventually I think. Don't know about the other stuff, but all this conspiracy theory stuff is pure bull. Some years ago a Hull newspaper resurected the story and tried to bring in a UFO/little green men angle. If you want to believe this stuff, then the Ltg was in fact found on the moon being flown by Elvis, while the USAF pilot was shot by a bloke on a grassy knoll, and taken away by a UFO. Yer right!!!!

20th Feb 2006, 16:07
and that several instruments had been removed from the dash board
and that probably sums up why you are asking such daft questions !


Ali Barber
20th Feb 2006, 20:06
Hermano Lobo,

Don't know anything about q's 2 and 3, but a military accident is investigated by the military themselves through a Board of Inquiry. Occasionally they invite assistance from the AAIB at Farnborough, but not as a norm. Therefore, the wreckage is taken to the nearest suitable site or wherever the BofI is taking place; in this case, Binbrook. Nothing unusual about it at all.

izod tester
20th Feb 2006, 20:48
Further to Ali Barber's post.

The RAF Board of Inquiry may or may not have invited AIB to assist with the accident investigations. However, even if the AIB had been invited to assist, I doubt they would have been allowed access to the wreckage at Binbrook until they had checked in with the President of the BOI.

I doubt very much whether the ejection seat had been "changed". I fully expect the ejection seat to have been removed to discover why it had failed to work and the instruments removed to discover whether or not they had failed prior to the accident and thus contributed to it.

victor two
21st Feb 2006, 04:07
There is a much more logical explanation. Aliens space monsters could find nothing good on BBC 2 that night so they lured the aircraft out over the sea, used a magnetic suction space beam to grab the aircraft, opened the canopy, unbuckled the pilot and took him away for purposes unknown but are no doubt of a perverse sexual nature, climbed in, frigged about with the instruments to make it look like bored kids had done it and then carefully closed the lid and dropped the plane into the sea.

Happens all the time in outback Australia............

Hermano Lobo
21st Feb 2006, 08:35
Oh here we go the 'Internet' geeks are on the rampage again!

How's that well worn cliche ? Looking around for some new ones ?
Having trouble "fing your Ltg" ?

I will call pilots 'drivers' and instrument panels 'dashboards' !
Nomenclature is loose and wide these days.

The last thing I wanted was people who spend their idle hours reading 'The News of the World' and referring to Elvis and Conspiracy Theories. The News of the World has obviously 'invaded' your subconscious. I am under-whelmed by your originality of comment.
I probably know more about Elvis than you do anyway ? Oh yes and what's happening on 'Emmerdale' ?

If there are genuine discrepancies in the original report and this is an unusual occurrence please add them in but keep your snide comments about UFO's/little green men to the newsgroups !