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Lightning crash

Old 29th Sep 2013, 09:22
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Lightning crash

I am currently reading 'Lightning Eject' by Peter Caygill. On page 19 her refers to the crash of XN785 and the death of F/O George Davie of 92 Sqn, and seems to suggest that the BOI got it wrong by the implication that the a/c had run out of fuel.
I was a J/T on 92 at the time and my recollection of the event is that we (the groundcrew) were told that he had run out of fuel, the engines wound down and that had caused the generators to fail. Can anyone shed any light on other possible reasons for the crash that were mooted at the time ? (Caygill does allude to DC pump problems but gives no source for his statement). Although no doubt exhilarating for the pilots to fly the Lighning was a servicing nightmare for all trades, with AC failures being particularly prevalent.
Whilst I was on the squadron we alas became very proficient at 'rest on your arms reversed' as we also lost F/L 'Mac' Cameron in a Hunter and a SNCO who committed suicide.
Memory is an odd thing but in my mind's eye I can still see all three chaps very clearly.
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Old 29th Sep 2013, 13:47
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According to the excellent Wolverhampton Aviation Group Website The Pilot had been trying to reach Leconfield short of fuel due to a systems fault. What systems fault it does not say.
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Old 30th Sep 2013, 09:03
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AGS man,
thank you for the reply. Perhaps the systems fault mentioned was one of the AC failures that I remember so well. Our Mk 2 a/c did not have any means of resetting the system in the air. I understand that later marks did have a reset button but I left my ground trade shortly after the crashes so do not know for sure
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Old 30th Sep 2013, 10:50
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It doesn't make nice reading

ASN Aircraft accident 27-APR-1964 English Electric Lightning F.Mk.2A. XN785
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Old 30th Sep 2013, 11:51
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NutLoose,
the information in the link you provided was common knowledge at Leconfield shortly after the crash. We had hoped that he had ejected safely but when we heard that he had not the armourers were very concerned about a possible seat malfunction due to some mistake on their part. This proved to be not the case.
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 22:57
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Not quite a crash but almost!

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Old 7th Oct 2013, 07:59
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Wow that is quite a picture...interesting to see that the airbrakes appear to be out
What was the story ?

rgds LR

Edit - I only mentioned the airbrakes because I thought it was an undershoot - but looking again perhaps it was not and lens effect gave me that impression !

Last edited by longer ron; 7th Oct 2013 at 08:13.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 18:30
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If I remember this particular accident, it occurred shortly before I arrived at Leconfield and the story was one of running out of fuel after staying too long on the tanker trying to make contact. However, several years later, it was discovered that at very low fuel states in a cruise descent (idle/fast idle) the aircraft attitude allowed the fuel pumps to become cavitated as they became uncovered by the low fuel left in the tanks and that would result in double flame-out.

Regardless of this discovery, it appeared that the pilot's initial diagnosis was electrical failure as the engines stopped driving the electrics. That delay in recognising the real problem was, unfortunately, fatal.

Last edited by soddim; 7th Oct 2013 at 18:33.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 21:53
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longer ron: we always used the airbrakes on landing as it increased the drag which meant we had more power on to give us better throttle response.

O_T_T_B : Yep remember it well - 11 May 1987, and a particularly crud day even for Binbrook. We were the only one airborne and all the way down the ILS they were calling it on limits. I took over as we broke out at 200'
(quote: "because I signed for it") and while adjusting to the centreline and getting it straight I ran out of aileron in a huge gust - full right stick and she is rolling left off the downwind side of the runway.

You don't normally find yourself looking at a vasi out the side window of a Lightning below 20 feet and I had had full side stick on for some time and she was still rolling, so the only thing I could think of left to do was take off the rudder. ( we were non-diversion - one go only). We bounced off the downwind-wheel at the edge of the runway and the bounce took us right back to the centreline where I pulled the brake-chute and taxied in. The Caravan called a wing strike but there were no scratch marks on it!

That night in the bar ( after a few stiff ones) I asked ATC why they had not called the real wind. Apparently because I had called "Precautionary" and they knew I had to land they decided not to tell me.

25 minutes in my log book - 5 seconds of it I will never forget


ps: If you really want to hear a good story, ask about the Mk3 that crashed on take-off and powered itself off the runway with no wheels down and the runway on fire.

Aahh W.I.W.O.L
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 22:33
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Petrolhead thanks for the recount!

I hope the passenger enjoyed it.

Last edited by On_The_Top_Bunk; 7th Oct 2013 at 22:34.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 22:53
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Ah yes, Petrolhead, that Mk3. 1981 I think? Interesting that as the ventral touched and its fuel plumed out, our friend hit the reheats (well, you would, wouldn't you?), and the reheats lit the fuel...

A fact which, years later, caused me to go into battle to insist that reheats were a likely ignition source in the Concorde take-off accident at CDG.

The Lightning landed safely, however, with a very cooked lower fuselage that took many moons to re-skin and sort out. Happy days.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 23:02
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Longer ron: we always used the airbrakes on landing as it increased the drag which meant we had more power on to give us better throttle response.
Thanks PH...yes I realised that - as I had added - when I first saw the pic I had thought it was an undershoot - it took me another look to realise that it was prob a x wind ...that lens effect !!

Lovely action shot though and thanks for filling in the details for us
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 07:46
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D120A. I remember that one too - trying to remember the pilot's name - I was OC Accts at the time.
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 08:10
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W00, see your PMs
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 08:53
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soddim,
initially we (the groundcrew) thought that the a/c had indeed had an AC failure. This was endemic with our Lightnings and caused the pilots and electricians much grief. I well remember one of our a/c came back with an AC failure and the SOP was for him to keep the engines running whilst it was investigated. On this occasion the JENGO and the EE rep climbed up on the wing with an AVO and opened the spine. The pilot followed their instructions and opened the throttles. As the 'letterboxes' opened the AVO probes disappeared down them ! This of course in front of a large audience. One a/c with AC failure and now requiring an engine change.
The job of investigating these problems was handed back to the 'leckies'.
'Interesting times' as the Chinese say
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 09:59
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Originally Posted by D120A
Ah yes, Petrolhead, that Mk3. 1981 I think? Interesting that as the ventral touched and its fuel plumed out, our friend hit the reheats (well, you would, wouldn't you?), and the reheats lit the fuel...
F.3 XP701, Jan 21st 1982.........??

Isn't there a fuzzy b&w photo published somewhere of this incident.....?

Last edited by GeeRam; 8th Oct 2013 at 10:01.
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 10:13
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XP701 was "my" aeroplane for a while.

Got an oil painting by Rex Flood in me house.
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 10:33
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And the 'not quite a take-off case' happened more than once with a Mk 3, plus one or two other Marks over the years!

lm

Last edited by lightningmate; 8th Oct 2013 at 10:36.
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 11:11
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It certainly did! I was talking to one of the culprits just the other day! Very hairy moment as he recalls!
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Old 8th Oct 2013, 11:46
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You were in that noisy basement too, eh Newt?
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