Red Arrows grounded after Hawk T1 jet crash – pilots are stable after first Navy ejection in 18 years

The famous Red Arrows display team have been grounded after a military plane crashed in woodland yesterday.

Both pilots ejected from the plane before it ploughed into the ground near Helston, Cornwall, and are in a stable condition in hospital.

All Hawk T1 aircraft have been temporarily "paused" by the Ministry of Defence following the crash.

A spokesperson said: "Safety is our paramount concern. The RAF has decided to temporarily pause Hawk T1 operations, as a precautionary measure, while investigations are ongoing.

"We will continue to review the situation as further information becomes available."

The Red Arrows – officially the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – would typically be spending this time perfecting their displays for the upcoming display season during the summer months.

Crews spend from October to March rehearsing, training and practising, before heading abroad to finalise routines in predictable weather.

No events for the arrows have been announced for 2021 so far.

The plane which crashed was taking part in a training exercise with crew from the 736 Naval Air Squadron – based nearby in Cornwall.

The pilots were found about half a mile from the crash site after ejecting.

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.

"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."

Anyone who finds debris should not touch it and instead report the find to Devon and Cornwall Police.

Chief Inspector Pete Thomas said: "We would ask the public to continue to keep their distance from the area whilst the investigation continues, and enquiries are carried out."

The investigation will be passed to the Royal Navy in due course.

Martin-Baker, which makes the ejection seats, says it was the first Royal Navy ejection in 18 years.

A post on the company Facebook said: "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."

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