Lightning 42-12770, 30th
Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron,
10th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, US 9th Air Force
4th March 1944
On 4th March 1944 this aircraft set off from RAF Chalgrove on a high altitude combat mission. At about 4:15pm, during its return flight, the aircraft went into a dive from which the pilot, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Barnes, was unable to recover. Before starting his decent to base Lt. Barnes had been flying at 32,000 feet and was using oxygen. The aircraft's engines and controls were working normally but as Lt. Barnes slowly pushed the control column forward the plane's rate of decent increased involuntarily and he was unable to bring the plane back to level flight. It is believed that at this point the pilot was semiconscious due to a lack of oxygen. Fortunately, despite his predicament, Lt. Barnes was able to bale out and landed safely near Halfway Farm. In order to jump successful from a Lightening the tail boom has to be blown off, as failure to do so will result in the pilot hitting this part of the aircraft as he falls. The tail section came to earth south of the A4, also near Halfway Farm. The remainder of the aircraft landed upside down near Roland's wood just north of Elcot Park.
It is believed that the accident was caused by faulty oxygen equipment, which resulted in the pilot momentarily losing consciousness and inadvertently making the aircraft decend rapidly.
Above: The crash site pictured during the early part of 2007.
The upside down remains of F-5A Lightning 42-12770.
Copyright 2007 Roger Day