A US Marine pilot died after crashing his F-18 hornet on farmland in Cambridgeshire Fens, near RAF Lakenheath.
The pilot had taken off from the nearby RAF airbase and was on his way to the U.S, after returning from a bombing mission in Syria.
The BBC reports:
The Hornet crashed on farm land in Redmere, near Ely, close to the Suffolk border, with the alarm raised at 10:30 BST.
Cambridgeshire Police confirmed the pilot, the only crew member, died.
The aircraft had taken off from RAF Lakenheath, but was not connected to the base.
It crashed four miles from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said it sent two crews, which were stood down within two hours.
“No firefighting or rescue action was required, but they remained on scene in a support capacity,” the spokeswoman said.
The Humber Coastguard said it scrambled its helicopter Rescue 912 but could not confirm its response once on site.
A witness to the US jet crash, Karen Miles-Holdaway of Redmere, said she thought that the pilot did very well to avoid any houses.
“You could feel the ground move so what I think I heard was probably the impact.
“My daughter was driving from Littleport and she saw this flash of light and plume of smoke.”
Amateur aviation enthusiast Roger Smith told BBC Radio Suffolk that the F-18 was one of a group of Hornet Marine Corps planes that were heading back to the US from the Middle East.
They arrived at Lakenheath over the weekend and four of them took off this morning.
Ian Barmer, BBC Look East
The skies above the Fens are very busy.
USAF F-15s are based at RAF Lakenheath and there are big refuelling tankers at RAF Mildenhall. There are our own tornadoes at RAF Marham and RAF Typhoon jets at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
As well as routine take-offs and landings, jets fly out over the Fens to get to bombing ranges in the Wash.
Jets also visit two USAF bases or use them as staging posts. Recently we had a visit by A10 tank busters to Lakenheath.
The F-18s are flown by the US Navy and the one that crashed, we understand, had recently been on bombing missions over Syria and was flying temporarily from Suffolk before heading back to the US..
Given the amount of activity in the area, accidents are rare.
The last one of note was in October 2014 when an American F-15 came down in farmland near Spalding during a training exercise.
It came down near a school but no-one was hurt and the pilot ejected.
At the scene: Kate Bradbrook, BBC Look East
This remote location is just a few miles from the Lakenheath and Mildenhall air bases. It’s also close to Ely and the Suffolk border.
There are just a few houses surrounded by fields, a large media presence and two police officers guarding the area.
A narrow lane leads down to where I believe the crash happened. Nearby there are workers in the fields carrying on with their jobs.
Details are still incredibly sketchy.
Plane spotters have told us that it was one of four planes to have taken off. We understand the plane was en route to the United States and probably came down shortly after take-off.
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