Thorpe Thewles History Group

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Can anyone provide me with any information about the following aircraft crash from the late 1960s or early 1970s that has puzzled me for the past 40 years or so. It concerns an aircraft which came down in the 'Sedgefield area'. That aircraft, I believe, was an American F86 Sabre jet.

I was a front seat passenger in a Police Humber Estate car travelling east along Central Avenue, Newton Aycliffe towards the A167 road. We had just left the police station. D.C. John Brierley accompanied me and we were stationed on Durham Constabulary’s “Serious Incident Squad”. It was morning time and the weather was hot with a cloudless sky.

At that time I was looking upwards at a fighter jet aircraft that was east of us and travelling north, moving from our right to our left. I noticed the large tail fin and identified it as being an American Sabre jet F-86.

Almost immediately, the aircraft deposited a large black cloud behind it and I saw an object leaving the aircraft that turned out to be a parachute. I knew that a Sabre jet was a single seat plane so it was obvious that the aircraft was going to crash.

I contacted the Control Room at Durham Police Headquarters by radio and informed them of the aircraft as well as the parachute. I said that I believed the parachute would come down in the Aycliffe Village area and that the aircraft was moving slowly and veering slightly to it’s right and I expected it to come down in the Sedgefield area.

John drove north on the A167 road as I watched the aircraft; we travelled quickly along the A689 road until we came towards Sedgefield. We could see by the thick cloud of smoke that the aircraft was down in some fields.

We made our way to the site and had to drive along narrow roads until we came to the smoke site in a farmer’s field. We parked our vehicle in the field and took our camera equipment from the vehicle. I saw the wreckage was spread over about 200 yards and there was a large hole in the ground which held the majority of the aircraft wreckage which I believe was American.

John and I were first there and straight away we took photographs of the site including as much of the damaged items as we could before people arrived. The first police officers to arrive were given the job of keeping the public out of the field and in particular making sure that no one removed any item from the site.

Later in the day, people arrived from RAF Catterick and spoke to our senior Police Officers. We were told to hand over all photographs that we had taken. To do this we took the leaves out of the photographic slides that we had used, thereby exposing the 5” x 4” film. John and I left the scene in late afternoon, as RAF Catterick were responsible for the site and the collection of all the items.

We left shortly afterwards and heard no more about this incident. It now appears that the aircraft did not crash in the Sedgefield area and I cannot recall the exact location, apart from the fact that we had to negotiate country roads before we came to the smoke filled field.

I have tried to trace this incident through the internet sites and am slowly going through the Northern Echo archives.

All the Best,

Gary Waine.


Various on-line newspaper archives contain reports of this crash.
It was a USAF Super Sabre that crashed on 12 May 1965 at Swan Carr Farm, Bradbury. The plane was from its base at Lakenheath, Suffolk. The pilot ejected successfully and was taken to Newcastle hospital for a check-up.