A Royal Navy Hawk T1 jet has crashed in woodland in Cornwall.
Two pilots ejected from the aircraft which is from the 736 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed. The pilots were checked by critical care paramedics at the scene, Cornwall Air Ambulance said. They were then airlifted to hospital.
Defence Minister Johnny Mercer said the crash was due to «suspected engine failure». «There’s nothing more to it than that,» he said. «They’ve had a problem, they’ve ejected, they’ve been picked up. «We’re assessing them and we’ll have more information in due course.»
Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker said it was the first Royal Navy ejection in 18 years.
Police said they received reports of the two-seater training aircraft crashing in the St Martin area on the Lizard Peninsula and they have asked people to stay away.
Eyewitness David Hoskin, a farmer, said he heard an «unbelievable bang» and saw two people ejecting from the plane. He found the two men «in fairly good spirits» and «chatting» in a field near the crash scene. One had «cuts and bruises» on his face from landing in trees next to the field. «The pilot was very concerned about the whereabouts of the jet,» he said. «He said they aimed to put it in the Helford River but we saw it heading away from the river.»
Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted: «Two men have been airlifted to #Derriford Hospital to be treated for their injuries. Details of injuries not known at this time. «Emergency services remain at the scene carrying out enquiries.»
Craig Hoyle, editor of Flight International Magazine and a former Hawk pilot, said the simulated attacks which 736 Squadron specialises in were «very exciting». «You end up flying above the water at about 100ft at 400mph, so it’s pretty exhilarating stuff,» he said.
Accidents were «very rare» and the aircraft were «very well maintained», he said, but if the plane’s single engine had failed as suspected, the crew would not have been able to return to RNAS Culdrose.