Update: Pilot ejects to safety after RAF Lakenheath jet crashes in Lincs

The F15 at Weston Hills
The F15 at Weston Hills
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The pilot of an F-15 jet from RAF Lakenheath ejected safely when his aircraft crashed on Wednesday.

The two-seat F-15D with one person aboard crashed in fields close to the village of Weston Hills near Spalding, Lincolnshire, at about 3.30pm.

Roger Smith, of Weston Hills, said: “The plane crashed literally 100 feet from my mum’s school – right near some houses.”

The school was evacuated as emergency services put a safety cordon around the burning jet, which the USAF said was unarmed.

Yesterday pupils received bravery certificates from Lincolnshire Police’s Bobby Bear mascot.

Paul Martin, 71, was holidaying in Norfolk with his wife and saw the jet minutes before the crash. He said: “We saw a couple of fighter jets come over and one had smoke coming from its engine.”

The pilot was flown to RAF Lakenheath where he was treated for minor injuries in the base hospital.

The 48th Fighter Wing’s commander Col Robert Novotny said: “We are fortunate we got our pilot back and we are very fortunate this crash didn’t cause any more damage than necessary.

“Every time we have an aircraft accident the air force does a wonderful job, not only does the US Air force but also the Royal Air Force commissions a board of officers and they look at everything.

“They look at safety, performance and the manner of which we conduct our training and all those things are put through the test.”

Lincolnshire Police warned yesterday: “Anyone discovered breaching the [security] cordon could find themselves in serious trouble and any attempt by souvenir hunters to remove parts of the debris will be treated as theft.”

On Wednesday evening the base tweeted: “RAF Lakenheath truly has the best neighbors. Thank you for your continuing support!”

A spokeswoman said: “We’ve been getting a lot of well wishers and messages and people in the area want to know about the pilot.”

The base lost four helicopter crew earlier this year when a Pave Hawk crashed in North Norfolk.