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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 143808
Last updated: 23 October 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic LTNG model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
English Electric Lightning F53
Owner/operator:BAC (British Aircraft Corporation)
Registration: 53-690
C/n / msn: 95296
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Pilling, Fylde, near Lancaster, Lancashire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Warton Airfield, Lancashire (EGNO)
Destination airport:
Lightning F53: first flown by T.M.S. Ferguson on 20-8-68 at BAC Samlesbury. Built for the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force with serial 53-690; was being test flown in "Class B" civilian markings as G27-60 at the time of the accident.

Crashed, 4-9-68, at Pilling, Fylde, near Lancaster, Lancashire (12 miles north of Warton) after total control failure. Shortly after take-off a fire developed in the aircraft at 400 feet and the pilot took the Lightning up to 4,000 ft, intending to head for the coast and ditch the aircraft into Morecambe Bay. However, after losing elevator control the pilot, John Cockburn, ejected safely, 6 min 30 sec after takeoff, at 4,200 ft and 305 km/hr IAS. The accident occurred on the aircraft's fourth flight.

At the village of Pilling, 12 miles to the North of Warton few people took any notice of the two planes overhead, or saw the stricken aircraft as it plunged vertically out of the low cloud, but people for miles around it seems heard the tremendous explosion as it impacted. 53-690 narrowly missed several houses and the local pub, as it dived into the centre of Pilling, coming down behind a pair of semi-detached cottages and hitting a greenhouse and outbuildings.

The force of the impact hurled fragments over a wide area and the largest, an undercarriage unit, landed in the nearby yard of a haulage firm, again damaging outbuildings and striking the wall of the office. At the cottages, one occupant was outside at the time and blown off his feet, whilst his wife, in the kitchen to the rear of the property, was slightly injured when part of the wall blew in.

The house was severely damaged and the couple were moved to a nearby council house until repairs were completed. The resulting crater, estimated to be between 15 and 35 feet deep and some 30 yards across, proved too unstable to excavate when the recovery crew arrived to salvage the remains of the aircraft. It is reported that they even resorted to freezing the ground around it with liquid nitrogen in an attempt to reach the buried wreckage, but to no avail.

A further Lightning F53, c/no 95317, with the Royal Saudi Air Force serial 53-700, was added to the contract as a replacement (although it was not delivered until 4-9-72, four years later). 53-700 was thus the last-ever "new build" Lightning


FLIGHT 12th September 1968 p393

Revision history:

17-Feb-2012 13:28 Dr. John Smith Added

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