‘It could have hit our village’

F-15 crash at Weston Hills. Photo: David Gray ANL-141010-140929001
F-15 crash at Weston Hills. Photo: David Gray ANL-141010-140929001

Low-level military aircraft flying over Lincolnshire’s fenland landscape has been a familiar part of life for as long as most people can remember.

But residents of Weston Hills now feel less safe after a jet fighter crash that could so easily have wiped out their village, including a primary school and a nursery.

Retired postman Michael Forth (63) lives in Broadgate, opposite the nursery, and said: “It could have been a right disaster – two or three hundred yards this way and he would have hit the centre of the village.

“They fly over the village all of the time – I don’t know why they have to circle the village.”

Mr Forth said the pilot may have tried to avoid the school and nursery before the accident, but says the aircraft crashed “very close” to them, and thinks it would be wrong after a near disaster for the forces to continue low-level flying over villages and towns.

Jade Box (18), who lives next to the nursery, said: “They should not practice over here because we have got a school and a nursery.”

When the plane crashed, Jade and her mum, Sarah, and sister Sophie, dashed to the school to see if there was anything they could do to help.

St John’s Road resident Roger Clarke said: “Up until now, I thought it was quite safe, because if a plane does lose control you have got so many open spaces.

“It’s a little bit scary now, thinking about it.

“If it happens again, will it be a near miss or a direct hit?”

The F-15 burst into flames on impact and a thick pall of black smoke enveloped homes and properties.

Mr Clarke, a retired food factory mechanical and electrical engineer, said he was on his computer when he heard the “bang” from the crash.

He went outdoors, but had to go back inside because he’s asthmatic and the smoke made him feel ill.

“Apparently the police came round later and told everyone on the other side to shut their windows, but they never came round here – they forgot about us,” he said.