BAC Jet Provost T. Mk.5A XW417 of No.7 Flying Training School, RAF, crashed close to Thirlmere on the 9th December 1982


Michael Gene O’Neill Flight Lieutenant Pilot Killed


The pilot was a Waddington based Vulcan Co-pilot who was on a “Co-pilot Enrichment Scheme” flying training course at RAF Church Fenton based No.7 FTS. This course was designed to allow the co-pilots, particularly of the then soon to be retired Vulcan fleet, to gain further first pilot experience in different scenarios to those that they had become used to prior to moving on to different types.

Flt Lt O’Neill was flying the third out of four Jet Provosts which took off from the Yorkshire air station for a low level cross country navigation exercise which was routed through the Lake District. However the area was largely obscured by low clouds and three of the four pilots elected to divert from the planned route to avoid the low cloud. However Flt Lt O’Neill did not divert around the low cloud, his aircraft was seen in the vicinity of Thirlmere though his intended route seems to have been over Ullswater, shortly afterwards it was heard towards the southern end of the lake and then seen diving out the low cloud. The aircraft dived into an area of forestry land close to the Lake and was completely destroyed.

The RAF Court of Inquiry reached the conclusion that while trying to climb through the low cloud to avoid the high ground ahead and to either side the pilot had lost control of the aircraft and was unable to regain control or eject before it crashed.

Small fragments of wreckage at the crash site from Jet Provost T. Mk.5 XW417 near Thirlmere
At the crash site there is still evidence of the aircraft with numerous small fragments of metal, glass and labels from components being found during a brief search.
A slight depression marking the point of impact at the crash site of Jet Provost XW417
This is the point where the aircraft impacted, in the centre of the photograph is a slight depression marking the crash site.
Vehicle tracks in which the first fragments of Jet Provost XW417 were found
Most of the evidence of the crash was found in this adjacent set of wheel marks left by a forestry vehicle, the disturbed patches of ground all contained small fragments.