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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 82557
Last updated: 26 October 2020
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Time:09:40 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic F4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II
Owner/operator:1st TRS, 10th TRW, USAF (1st TRS, 10th TRW, United States Air Force)
Registration: 68-0560
C/n / msn: 3422
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Lealholmeside, near Whitby, North Yorkshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Alconbury AFB (EGWZ)
Destination airport:
On Friday the 27th of April 1979 a Phantom jet based at the USAF base at Alconbury was on a low level tactical reconaissance mission over the north of England. It is thought that the crew were taking photographs at low level over the North Yorkshire Moors. It is not known whether the visibility was bad when the aircraft took off but at the time of its demise visibility was good, it was a fine day.

The aircraft was flying towards the Lealholm area when the engine stalled, the pilot boosted the power to the engine but flames came out of the rear of the aircraft. The crew must by now have realised that they were left with no option but to stay with their aircraft and try and land it. The plane was seen to bank left at a low level as it approached Lealholm.

A witness said that he saw the two airmen in their cockpit seconds before impact during this banking. At 09.40hrs, the wing of the Phantom then dug into the ground causing a large rut to be made, the aircraft would have been travelling far too fast for any control to be made at this stage.

The aircraft cartwheeled some distance before completely disintergrating in a fireball across fields below Lealholmside. The aircraft shot through the stone wall to the left of the road and across this road leaving numerous scrape marks on it. It then crashed through the ditch at the other side of the road and through another stone wall bordering this ditch. The fields at this side of the road had hundreds of sheep in them.

The resulting fireball which scorched the land also wiped out all these animals. Two telegraph poles in these fields were also broken down. The engines stopped after a distance across these next fields.

The wreckage was scattered the full length of the crash site, which is said to be about half a mile in length. Wreckage travelled across these fields and up the hill into gardens of the houses along the Lealholmside road.

Pilot - Major Donald Lee Schuyler USAF, aged 33. Navigator - Lt Thomas Wheeler USAF, aged 25, of Baker City, Oregon, USA, failed to eject and were killed.

A memorial stone, erected by villagers, stands on the site of the crash alongside the road between Lealholm and Lealholmside




Photo of 68-0560 courtesy

Florennes (EBFS)
14 June 1973; (c) Jonathan Verschuuren Collection

Revision history:

14-Nov-2010 11:55 ASN archive Added
26-Nov-2011 15:43 Dr. John Smith Updated [Date, Registration]
26-Nov-2011 15:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
18-Aug-2013 17:40 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Departure airport, Narrative]
19-Jan-2015 15:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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