Hawker Hunter T. Mk.7 G-BTYL (formerly XL595) dived into the ground on Broomhead Moor near Stocksbridge on the 11th June 1993
The owner of the aircraft, a commercial pilot with over 5,500 hours of experience, normally flew from Foulsham, in Norfolk, but kept G-BTYL at RAF Coltishall as there were better facilities for maintaining and operating such an aircraft from there. He had bought XL595 from the RAF in December 1991 after it had been in long term storage at St Athan and had it transferred by road to Coltishall where the aircraft was restored to flying condition and then register with the CAA as G-BTYL. They issued a permit to fly with a number of restriction, one was that the aircraft was not to be flown above 10,000 feet, due to the oxygen system not having been re-certified at the time, and another was that it was to only be flown in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions). Though the pilot himself was licensed to fly in Instrument Meteorological Conditions.
On the day of the crash the pilot was intending to fly from Coltishall to Warton near Preston for the Blackpool Air Show on the 12th June where he was booked to perform a display.
He arrived at Coltishall during the morning of the 11th to be told by the duty weather forecaster that it would not be possible for a VMC flight to Warton due to the presence of a band of rain across the route with cloud base below 1000ft and visibility around half a mile. Mr Cubitt decided to wait until later in the day to see if conditioned had improved. At shortly before 2pm he returned to the met office at Coltishall, he was told that while the conditions had improved in the Warton area extensive areas of thunderstorms were developing in the East Midlands. He left the office stating “I’ll have to think about it”.
Not long after he went to his aircraft and was helped into the cockpit by an RAF technician who armed to ejection seat, Mr Cubitt then contacted the controller and requested permission to start his engine and for clearance to fly VFR to Warton at Flight Level 105, this clearance was given and at 14:27 the aircraft was at the holding point just off the runway, the aircraft was then cleared for take off at 14:31.
After take off the aircraft the pilot turned onto a direct track towards Warton and reported at 14:35 to Eastern Radar that he was at FL 105, radio traffic was normal at first but the transmissions from the aircraft fairly quickly became unintelligible, at 14:47 Mr Cubitt was requested to contact Manchester Control but it would appear that he did not receive this as shortly after this he contacted Waddington and reported that he was 55 nautical miles from Warton at FL 105. The controller at Waddington realised from his plot that the aircraft had strayed into controlled airspace and instructed Mr Cubitt to turn left on to a heading of 140 to get him clear of the controlled air space. This command was acknowledged and the beginnings of the turn recorded on radar but 13 seconds later the aircraft disappeared from the radar screen.
At the time contact was lost the aircraft had flown into an area of heavy rain with some hail and thunder activity. It had then dived into the ground, which is at a height of about 1,500 feet, in excess of 450 knots at about 45o nose down while in a left turn heading roughly south west carving a sizable crater in the otherwise featureless moorland.
The AAIB investigation had very little to go on as no major sections of the aircraft were recovered from the very water logged ground. All the then visible wreckage was cleared from the site and recovered to Farnborough. Parts from all the major areas of the airframe were found however which allowed the AAIB to determine that there had not been a “catastrophic structural failure whilst in flight”. Amongst the items were many parts from the cockpit including instruments which had been ‘frozen’ at their pre-impact readings. The readings from both artificial horizons were consistent with those expected for an aircraft descending with the left wing low and an electrically driven altimeter was also found which again gave a consistent reading. This was 3,000 feet but as the aircraft was descending at a very high rate and there is a delay between a pressure reading and the servo delivering the change on the gauge the AAIB felt this was valid. It also showed to them that the electrical systems were functional just before impact.
Mr Cubitt had made no attempt to abandon the aircraft as examination of the remains of his ejection seat showed it had not been fired, the explosive charges from both seats being destroyed on site once they had been examined.
No firm conclusion as to the cause of the crash was reached by the AAIB but they did state that the evidence did suggest that there “had been no major failure of the aircraft or its systems”.