Royal Navy pilots treated in hospital after ejecting from jet

Rod Minchin, PA
·4-min read

A Royal Navy Hawk jet has crashed in woodland in Cornwall after the two pilots ejected.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the two pilots were being assessed at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth following the incident near Helston.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the crew are members of the 736 Naval Air Squadron and were on a flight from RNAS Culdrose, which is based on the Lizard peninsula near Helston.

736 Naval Air Squadron uses the Hawk T1 jet, which is also used by the Red Arrows and is a two-seater training aircraft.

A parachute in a tree of one of the pilots of a Royal Navy Hawk jet which crashed in woodland in Cornwall
A parachute in a tree of one of the pilots of a Royal Navy Hawk jet which crashed in woodland in Cornwall (Cornwall Air Ambulance/PA)

An MoD spokesman said: “Two pilots are being checked by medics after ejecting from a Royal Navy Hawk aircraft from 736 Naval Air Squadron during a flight from RNAS Culdrose.

“An investigation will begin in due course. We won’t be providing further detail at this time.”

Police said the emergency services were at the scene of the incident in woodland in the St Martins area of Helston.

“Emergency services are currently in the St Martins area of Helston following reports of a plane crash,” a force spokesman said.

“Public are asked to avoid the area whilst first responders attend the scene. Two people have been treated by ambulance at the scene and will now be taken to hospital.

“Their injuries are not currently thought to be life-threatening or changing. Two men have been air lifted to Derriford Hospital to be treated for their injuries.”

Eyewitness Layla Astley said: “I saw the plane flying low over our house, I heard a clunking sound, it flew on over our fields and then there was a loud crack and we saw two pilots ejecting.

“I watched as their parachutes opened.

A Cornwall Air Ambulance helicopter (left) alongside a Coastguard SAR helicopter in a field adjacent to where a Royal Navy Hawk jet crashed in woodland in Cornwall after the two pilots ejected
A Cornwall Air Ambulance helicopter alongside a Coastguard SAR helicopter in a field adjacent to where a Royal Navy Hawk jet crashed (Cornwall Air Ambulance/PA)

“I then saw the plane bank left and over the top of a hill before hearing a very loud bang. There was no smoke or fire and I hear from locals that thankfully no-one was seriously hurt.”

Vanessa Glossop, who lives near the crash site, told the PA news agency the crash sounded like “a huge piece of machinery going over a cattle grid”.

She said: “I assumed it was just exactly that, coming from the local farm. But then the sirens, police cars, fire engines, Coastguard came tearing past the house and I knew something bad had happened.”

Speaking to the Cornwall Live website at the scene, Inspector Reggie Butler-Card said police received “multiple reports” at 9.30am of an aircraft crash.

“A Hawk jet from 736 Squadron has crashed and that aircraft had two persons on board. Both had ejected and are safe,” he said.

“They have not got life-threatening or life-changing injuries but have been taken to hospital.”

Mr Butler-Card said if any members of the public find debris from the plane they should not touch it and should instead contact the police.

“It could be dangerous and have hazards associated with it,” he said.

“The cause of the crash is being investigated. The military will be on site soon and they will be taking charge of the investigation.”

A Royal Navy Hawk aircraft from 736 Naval Air Squadron crashed this morning during a flight from RNAS Culdrose. Both…

Posted by Martin-Baker on Thursday, March 25, 2021

He said the pilots were found about half a mile from the main crash site, having ejected safely.

Pictures from the scene showed a parachute hanging from a nearby tree.

Cornwall Air Ambulance said: “Critical care paramedics assessed and treated two patients who had ejected from the aircraft.

“They worked alongside the Coastguard helicopter crew, South Western Ambulance Service, Devon and Cornwall Police and a team from RNAS Culdrose.

“The patients did not sustain life-threatening injuries.”

Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker said it was the first Royal Navy ejection in 18 years.

The company wrote on Facebook: “A Royal Navy Hawk aircraft from 736 Naval Air Squadron crashed this morning during a flight from RNAS Culdrose. Both pilots ejected successfully.

“This is the first Royal Navy ejection in 18 years with the last being Martin-Baker’s 7,000th ejection back in 2003.”