British team to investigate training mission jet crash

Posted: Friday, July 27, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A British team of investigators was expected to arrive Friday at Eielson Air Force Base to look into why a military jet crashed, killing the pilot.

British military authorities on Thursday identified the pilot as 28-year-old Flight Lt. Jason Hayes, a five-year veteran of the Royal Air Force. He joined the air force in February 1996 and was based in Norfolk, England.

''To lose a bright, enthusiastic and gifted young pilot such as Jason has a deep effect on everyone at a close knit station such as RAF Coltishall,'' said the station commander, Group Capt. Christopher Harper.

The plane was one of four jets flying a mission Wednesday during the Cooperative Cope Thunder, multinational military air exercise taking place in Alaska's Interior. British, Japanese and U.S. aircraft are participating in the two-week exercise, which began July 16 and concludes Friday.

About 350 Royal Air Force members are at Eielson for the exercise.

The exercises were suspended for a few hours Thursday morning but resumed in the afternoon, said Eielson's Master Sgt. John Norgren.

Eielson will provide logistical support to the 10-member RAF investigation team when it arrives, he said.

''They will investigate until they have the right conclusion,'' Norgren said.

The body of the pilot was found about 5 p.m. Wednesday in the wreckage of the single-seat Jaguar fighter plane. The plane was found in a remote area 110 miles east of Eielson. The base is 26 miles south of Fairbanks.

The Jaguar was last tracked about 110 miles northeast of Delta Junction, south of Fairbanks. The plane was running a normal mission simulating a ground attack when it disappeared from radar.

Military search and rescue aircraft were used to locate the plane. It crashed in a rugged, mountainous area in cloudy weather.

The RAF has used the Jaguar fighter-bomber since 1969.

Last October, an RAF Jaguar lost control near the Scotland-England border after flying through a flock of birds. The pilot ejected safely.

In 1996, an RAF pilot ejected safely when his plane crashed during international training exercises in Alaska.

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