Panavia Tornado F. Mk.3 ZE858 of No.43 Squadron, RAF, crashed near to Stainmore Summit between Brough and Bowes on the 21st October 1993

Tornado F3


Stuart John MacDonald Walker Flight Lieutenant Pilot Survived
Liam A. Taylor Flight Lieutenant Navigator Survived


The aircraft, which was stationed at RAF Leuchars in Fife, was flying with 3 other Tornado F. Mk.3s. Together they were taking part in a low level training flight which involved the flight defending a pair of Tornado G.R. Mk.1s from an attacking flight of 4 more Tornado F. Mk.3s from another RAF station.

After 40 minutes ZE858 suffered a serious fuel leak around the port engine, this caused a loss of power in that engine. The pilot decided to divert to the nearest suitable airfield, he began a climb and selected reheat on both engines. This ignited the leaking fuel which soon caused a fire around the starboard and then port jet pipes. The onboard fire extinguishers were discharged but did not have any effect. After this the crew abandoned the aircraft which then crashed onto the rough moor land close to the A66.

The source of the leak was traced to a V-Clamp (similar to a jubilee clip with a v shaped metal compression ring within it designed to pull two flanged joints together) which had failed allowing two parts of a fuel feed pipe to become separated. However the ultimate cause of the loss was attributed to the pilot selecting reheat as without this the fuel would most likely not have ignited and the aircraft may have been able to fly to the nearest diversionary airfield, if it didn’t first run out fuel!

The pilot, Flt Lt Walker was killed less than a year later when the Tornado he was flying crashed off Cyprus during an exercise.

Crash site of Panavia Tornado ZE858 on Stainmore Common
Despite the crash causing a large crater the site today is marked only by a small patch of disturbed ground containing a few tiny fragments of the aircraft. Most of the wreckage was removed when the site was cleared and then landscaped following the crash.