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In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

Article about: I know this is modern non World War related aviation archaelogy post but i helped research this incident with some aircrash researchers from Newcastle back in early 2000 and corresponded reg

  1. #1

    Default In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    I know this is modern non World War related aviation archaelogy post but i helped research this incident with some aircrash researchers from Newcastle back in early 2000 and corresponded regularly with the wife of the Navigator who very kindly helped out by giving information we would never have known including providing a handfull of photos of one of the crew of this aircraft-her husband. The details are as follows:

    Panavia Tornado GR.1 serial number ZD809 of 15 Reserve Squadron RAF based at RAF Lossiemouth UK. On 14th October 1999 she was crewed by 30 year old pilot Flt.Lt Richard Ashley Wright and his navigator Flt.Lt Sean Patrick Casabayo also aged 30. The sortie that morning was to the Spadeadam bombing range on a Forward Air Control excercise as part of a Qualified Weapons Instructors course. ZD809 ran into poor weather conditions in an area near Newcastle airport and was unable to set course for Spadeadam in the deteriorating weather conditions and was forced to fly back to the coast as was the correct procedure. ZD809 returned to the coast and again attempted to set course for Spadeadam. Again ZD809 headed into the bad weather which had not been in their original area weather briefing. Again as ZD809 neared Newcastle airport airspace she was forced to pull up and out of the bad weather to avoid the airports airspace during the crucial seconds which followed ZD809 was forced to pull a hard left turn in which the nose of the aircraft dropped significantly and the rudder became inoperable for a few seconds, a normal event under such circumstances. The pilot did not have these crucial seconds to spare and without the full use of his rudder ZD809 broke cloud and ploughed into open farmland between the villages of Ingoe and Kirheaton some 15 miles outside Newcastle Upon Tyne. Neither crew had time to eject and were killed instantly in the crash and the explosion that followed. In accordance with such accidents the area was sealed off from the public and a team of investigators arrived on the scene to find the aircrafts CVR (cockpit Voice Recorder) and black box. These were recovered along with remains of the two man crew within the first day of the investigation. A team of recovery experts spent the next three weeks collecting and cataloguing wreckage from the Tornado. Three weeks later with the land opened to the public again a local group of aircraft crash investigators went to the site to take photographs to add to their online database detailing all wartime and post war aircraft crashes and crash sites in the north of England area. The first visit yielded very little in the way of pieces of wreckage from ZD809. A depression in the ploughed field in front of a pine plantation marked the point of impact and a search of the woods revealed only small pieces of sharp metal fragments imbedded in some of the trees. Two weeks later the group went back after some pretty heavy snow and winter storms and in the woods were then found quite a number of parts from ZD809. The group were right in thinking that when ZD809 struck the ground the explosion blew many pieces of wreckage into the trees which the recovery team did not see and were later dislodged by winter storms and winds. One such piece was seen hanging from a branch so one of the guys climbed up to get it and see what it was. It turned out to be a part of fuselarge bearing part of the Tornados serial number ZD809-the "D" and part of the "8" were clearly visible in large black lettering. Lots of engine parts and wiring were also found. These were photographed and to prevent them being taken away by souvenir hunters the group packed the pieces of wreckage into plastic bags, sealed them up with heavy duty tape and buried them in a 4ft hole in the woods where they were found and a GPS reading taken. The group then left the site. My job was to make contact with any relatives or family of the two crew. I made contact with Julie Casabayo-wife of the navigator who at the time of the crash was six months preagnant with her son William. It is thanks to Julie who was also serving in the RAF at the time she lost Sean that we gained at least one photograph of a crew member of ZD809. Naturally, the MOD blamed the crew for the accident stating incorrect low level abort procedure, bad weather and poor crew resource management were the factors in the loss of ZD809. I was told later that the pilot Richard Ashley Wright felt he was being put under too much pressure during the course though the official report stated that this sortie was not unduly testing! ZD809 had served in the 1991 Gulf War as "Awesome Annie" with 617 Squadron and flew 33 bombing missions without receiving any damage. May she and her crew rest in peace-forever remembered. The photographs here were obtained either by myself or Glyn Towers during our time working on the data for the memorial website which sadly no longer exists. I hope this goes some way to put the loss in peoples minds again. Thankyou for looking.

  2. #2

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    A little bit of info for you, the photo of the crew appears to have been taken at Muharraq during or just after Gulf war 1 or Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) Al Kharj, in the mid to late 90s as part of Op Bolton.

    Leed aircraft in this formation, Op Granby 91. Note the 2250Ltr big jugs fuel tanks

  3. #3

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    Quote by m3bobby View Post
    A little bit of info for you, the photo of the crew appears to have been taken at Muharraq during or just after Gulf war 1 or Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) Al Kharj, in the mid to late 90s as part of Op Bolton.

    Leed aircraft in this formation, Op Granby 91. Note the 2250Ltr big jugs fuel tanks
    Many thanks for that photo as its one ive not seen before of ZD809 in the Gulf during Op Grandby. The crew photo came from RAF Lossiemouth who refused to supply me a photo of either of the crew and ignored my correspondence regarding photos so Julie Casabayo gave me this one. Flt Lt Sean Casabayo is on the left in the photo wearing shades and with short blonde hair the other guy is his mate "Dutch" and is not Flt.Lt Wright. We were never able to get a photo of Flt. Lt Wright even though i did speak with his father in 2002 when we were trying to get a memorial of some sort erected near the crash site. Again it seemed none of the local businesses or the local church gave a damn about these two guys when approached about donating to a fund for the erecting of a permanent memorial either near the site or in form of a plaque to be placed in local church. The costs would have been around £300-£400 which we just did not have so the memorial remained as an internet one only. Sadly the main website went down years ago when Glyn went to America. I have a lot of photos saved from the original website and will try and add more over the next few days. Cheers and its really nice to get a comment on this thread at last so thanks very much for that and best regards. Tim.

  4. #4
    ?

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    There is little really you can say after reading the story above. But coming from an RAF family (Grandad served during WW2, Brother came out recently) this about says it all. Often used and often apt.

    High Flight
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward Iíve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    of sun-split clouds, ó and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed ofówheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hovíring there,
    Iíve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air....
    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    Iíve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark nor even eagle flewó
    And, while with silent lifting mind Iíve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


    John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

    Not sure who wrote this one, but it also springs to mind.

    Flying West...


    I hope there's a place, way up in the sky,
    Where pilots can go, when they have to die.
    A place where a guy could buy a cold beer
    For a friend and a comrade whose memory is dear.
    A place where no doctor or lawyer could tread,
    Nor a management -type would e'er be caught dead!
    Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, full of smoke,
    Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke!
    The kind of a place where a lady could go,
    And feel safe and secure by the men she would know.
    There MUST be a place where old pilots go, when
    Their wings become weary, when their airspeed gets low;
    Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
    And songs about flying and dying are sung.
    Where you'd see all the fellows who'd "flown west" before,
    And they'd call out your name, as you came thru the door,
    Who would buy you a drink, if the thirst should be bad,
    And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"
    And then thru the mist you'd spot an old guy
    You had not seen for years, though he'd taught YOU to fly,
    He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
    And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased you are here!
    For this is the place where true flyers come,
    When the battles are over, and the wars have been won;
    We've come here at last, to be safe and afar,
    From the government clerk, and the management czar,
    Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise,
    Where all Hours are Happy, and these good ol' boys,
    Can relax with a 'cool one', and a well deserved rest.."
    "This is Heaven, my son: You've passed your last check!"

  5. #5

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    I'm Serving RAF at the moment, I served on F3s for 8 years and went on 7 tours of Saudi Arabia but came back to the UK a few weeks before GW2 (I had a ccar crash and never went back). I'm now on Typhoons at Conningsby, been there for 4 years, jobs getting more and more demanding (If it wasn't for having a baby a few weeks back, I'd be on just going on my next detachment making it 6 months away since March) so I know how Flt Lt Wright felt.

    Keep up the good work, ATB, Chris.

  6. #6

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    Quote by m3bobby View Post
    I'm Serving RAF at the moment, I served on F3s for 8 years and went on 7 tours of Saudi Arabia but came back to the UK a few weeks before GW2 (I had a ccar crash and never went back). I'm now on Typhoons at Conningsby, been there for 4 years, jobs getting more and more demanding (If it wasn't for having a baby a few weeks back, I'd be on just going on my next detachment making it 6 months away since March) so I know how Flt Lt Wright felt.

    Keep up the good work, ATB, Chris.
    Thanks for your most welcome comments Chris. I didnt like the way the official investigation report concluded that it was basicallys the crews fault that Tornado ZD809 was lost. Then they recommend all low flying aircraft be fitted with a Ground Proximity Warning Radar-why were these not fitted as standard in the first place for all low level operators? Did it have to take the lives of two very experienced aircrew before anything was done? My heart went out to Julie Casabayo as the last time i was in touch with this very kind beautiful young lady she was about to take on the MOD for compensation but was worried that the MOD would single out Flt.Lt Wright for the blame factor and she really didnt want that to happen. She had confided that Dicky as they nicknamed him felt he was being put under far too much pressure during the QWI course and with things how they are in all the forces at this time one can see that the seeds of discontent were there from 1999. For poor Julie the loss of ZD809 meant the loss of her husband and an unborn baby without a father and a family without a son, the same as Flt.Lt Wright. Its about time the Government put our forces first for once instead of allways putting them at the back of the que. Regards, Tim.

  7. #7

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    There is an interesting aside to this accident regarding another aircraft in the vicinity at the same time. Surely there must have been some investigation into this aspect.

    ASN Aircraft accident 14-OCT-1999 Panavia Tornado GR1 ZD809

    Regards, Ned.
    'I do not think we can hope for any better thing now.
    We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far.
    It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. R. SCOTT.
    Last Entry - For God's sake look after our people.'

    In memory of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans. South Pole Expedition, 30th March 1912.

  8. #8

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    [QUOTE=big ned;197580]There is an interesting aside to this accident regarding another aircraft in the vicinity at the same time. Surely there must have been some investigation into this aspect.

    ASN Aircraft accident 14-OCT-1999 Panavia Tornado GR1 ZD809

    Regards, Ned.[/QUOTE

    You are correct there Ned! Moments before ZD809 flew over a witness recalled a ten seater passenger aircraft flying very low in what would have been ZD809's flight path. Furthermore a Tornado airframe tech said that one of the small pieces of wreckage Glyn and Jim found and photographed at the crashite was NOT from a Tornado and must have come from another aircraft. Of course there was only this guys word that he was a Tornado tech, we had no proof he was and it may have been a wind up, we will never know as this guy did not get in touch again. What is known that during the minutes before the Tornado crashed there were three airspace breach alerts at Newcastle Airport and a report of a near miss with a passenger aircraft. It was confirmed days later that the aircraft involved in the near miss was indeed ZD809. It is certainly a strange set of circumstances that led to this aircraft crashing. Its by no means the only Tornado accident in the North of England as i beleive one crashed into a river in Newcastle the crew both ejecting safely. I think the pilot of ZD809 became seriously disorientated in the bad weather which he was unprepared for having been issued with an incorrect weather report for the area, he was obviously under a degree of stress to get the aircraft to Spadeadam and in the crucial last moments had no way to ascertain his altitude in such bad weather conditions. The last words spoken between pilot and navigator was the navigator shouting out "Pull hard left, hard left". Another Tornado on the same sortie made it through the bad weather to Spadeadam and completed its mission. Previous to this i had only ever done WW2 aviation research mainly on the Luftwaffe and used the same research techniques which thankfully paid off and enabled us to gather a huge amount of data on this crash so its still one which is special to me and thought that the guys who were killed would appreciate that nearing the 12th anniversary that they are still remembered. After all its guys like them who in the event of war would be defending this country and its the least we can do for them. Regards, Tim

  9. #9

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    [QUOTE=Falschirmjager;197635]
    Quote by big ned View Post
    There is an interesting aside to this accident regarding another aircraft in the vicinity at the same time. Surely there must have been some investigation into this aspect.

    ASN Aircraft accident 14-OCT-1999 Panavia Tornado GR1 ZD809

    Regards, Ned.[/QUOTE

    You are correct there Ned! Moments before ZD809 flew over a witness recalled a ten seater passenger aircraft flying very low in what would have been ZD809's flight path. Furthermore a Tornado airframe tech said that one of the small pieces of wreckage Glyn and Jim found and photographed at the crashite was NOT from a Tornado and must have come from another aircraft. Of course there was only this guys word that he was a Tornado tech, we had no proof he was and it may have been a wind up, we will never know as this guy did not get in touch again. What is known that during the minutes before the Tornado crashed there were three airspace breach alerts at Newcastle Airport and a report of a near miss with a passenger aircraft. It was confirmed days later that the aircraft involved in the near miss was indeed ZD809. It is certainly a strange set of circumstances that led to this aircraft crashing. Its by no means the only Tornado accident in the North of England as i beleive one crashed into a river in Newcastle the crew both ejecting safely. I think the pilot of ZD809 became seriously disorientated in the bad weather which he was unprepared for having been issued with an incorrect weather report for the area, he was obviously under a degree of stress to get the aircraft to Spadeadam and in the crucial last moments had no way to ascertain his altitude in such bad weather conditions. The last words spoken between pilot and navigator was the navigator shouting out "Pull hard left, hard left". Another Tornado on the same sortie made it through the bad weather to Spadeadam and completed its mission. Previous to this i had only ever done WW2 aviation research mainly on the Luftwaffe and used the same research techniques which thankfully paid off and enabled us to gather a huge amount of data on this crash so its still one which is special to me and thought that the guys who were killed would appreciate that nearing the 12th anniversary that they are still remembered. After all its guys like them who in the event of war would be defending this country and its the least we can do for them. Regards, Tim
    The following are more photographs from my Tornado ZD809 data file. Photographs include the moment Air Crash Researcher Jim Corbett found the fuselarge section bearing part of the aircrafts serial number up in a tree top, another nice photo of Sean Casabayo with his wife Julie, view of the crash site, pieces of wreckage found in the woods. Please note these photographs are copyright of either myself, Julie Casabayo, Jim Corbett and Glyn Towers. Anyone wishing to use any of the photographs please get in touch as permission will not be refused to legitimate uses.

  10. #10

    Default Re: In Memory of the Crew of Tornado ZD809 Crashed 14th October 1999.

    Quote :

    Furthermore a Tornado airframe tech said that one of the small pieces of wreckage Glyn and Jim found and photographed at the crashite was NOT from a Tornado and must have come from another aircraft. Of course there was only this guys word that he was a Tornado tech, we had no proof he was and it may have been a wind up, we will never know as this guy did not get in touch again.

    Unquote.

    Do you still have a photo of said part? I know a lot of Ex Tornado A/F mechanics who work on Typhoons and I'm no expert but I think I'd recognise most external surfaces.

    ATB, Chris.

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