Crews from Scarborough and Bridlington RNLI were part of a major, multi-agency search for an American military jet which crashed into the sea yesterday morning.
The F-15C Eagle, a single-seat fighter with a pilot on board, went into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head. It was taking part in a routine training mission from 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
HM Coastguard tasked Scarborough and Bridlington RNLI to join the search operation just before 10am. Volunteer crews at both stations launched their Shannon all-weather lifeboats within minutes. Coordinated by the coastguard, they joined military aircraft, the coastguard helicopter and various other vessels in the search. Sea conditions were calm but the operation was made more difficult by low cloud cover and fog.
At 6.20pm on Monday, a spokesperson from 48th Fighter Wing confirmed the pilot as being deceased. He was named as 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen, from Utah.
Both lifeboats returned to their stations and were made ready for service by 10pm, after some 12 hours at sea.
Scarborough lifeboat coxswain Lee Marton said: “The crews and other volunteers of RNLI Bridlington and Scarborough would like to offer their deepest sympathies to the family of the pilot and to all at 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath.
“Our Shannon lifeboats have a range of some 250 nautical miles and are perfectly suited to this kind of task, but any 12-hour operation takes its toll on the crews, especially when there is such a sad outcome.
“I’d like to thank both volunteer crews and all parties involved in the search for their cooperation and professionalism during this major operation in what were very challenging conditions.”
- If you see anyone injured or in distress on the coast, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.