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UK pilots walk away relatively unscathed from Navy plane crash

written by Hannah Dowling | March 26, 2021

File image of a BAE Systems Hawk T1 (Wikimedia/Steve Lynes)

Two pilots have survived after successfully ejecting themselves from a British Royal Navy Hawk T1 plane that crashed near the coast of Cornwall.

The 736 Naval Squadron Hawk T1 had taken off from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall, and was likely conducting a training flight when it crashed into a small wooded area on the Lizard Peninsula at 9:48am GMT on Thursday.

The pilots issued a 7700 squawk to indicate a general emergency shortly before the crash and then both successfully ejected themselves from the aircraft before impact.

Both pilots luckily walked away relatively unscathed.

An eyewitness of the crash, David Hoskin, told the BBC he had 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, and said one suffered “cuts and bruises” to his face upon landing with his parachute through some trees.

Hoskin added the pilot was “very concerned about the whereabouts of the jet”.


“He said they aimed to put it in the Helford River but we saw it heading away from the river.”

Local emergency services attended the scene shortly thereafter to treat the pilots, who were ultimately airlifted to the hospital for checks.

The police have said both pilots are in stable condition “without significant injury”.

The Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted that the pilots’ injuries “are not currently thought to be life-threatening or changing”.

In a statement, the UK Ministry of Defence 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.”

It has been reported that the Dutch and French navy will be assisting in the investigation.

UK Defence Minister Johnny Mercer later said that the crash was caused by a “suspected engine failure”.

“There’s nothing more to it than that,” Minister Mercer added.

“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.”

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


  • Mick


    There are plenty of Royal Navy Hawk photographs out there, why did you chose to use an example of an RAF 100 Squadron Hawk?

    • Hannah Dowling


      Hi Mick, thanks for your comment and bringing this to my attention. Due to licensing/copyright reasons I only have access to a finite selection of photos. It appears that while our archives are expansive, they do have some shortcomings. I am currently in the process of licensing the right to use the photo of a Royal Navy Hawk and will update the article’s photo when complete. Thanks again for reading, have a great day! 🙂

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