The wreckage of the Red Arrows Hawk jet aircraft is pictured on Anglesey in North Wales today
Witnesses today described the dramatic moment an RAF jet crashed into the runway at a Royal Air Force base.
Two people are believed to have been on board the Red Arrows Hawk jet aircraft before it came down at RAF Valley in North Wales.
Witnesses have claimed that the crew members were forced to eject from the aircraft, which was leaving the Anglesey airfield and due to return to the elite unit’s RAF Scampton base in Lincolnshire.
Plumes of black smoke were seen billowing into the sky after the jet crashed at about 1.30pm today in photographs taken by pipe welder Deno James, who works nearby.
He said: ‘I was near the compound and the plane came around to do a practice landing on the runway. It missed the runway and landed at the left hand side.
‘Two pilots were ejected about 200 yards from the ground. I pulled up for a moment in my truck watching and watched the plane come over my head.’
One eyewitness told the Daily Post that they were waiting for a train when they saw someone parachute from the plane before it crashed.
They said: ‘I was sat at Rhosneigr train station and you can see the airfield from there. I was watching the Red Arrow flying because you hardly ever see them.
‘Then it looked like it was about to land. Then next thing I saw was the parachute and then the plane hit the runway and went up in flames.’
Caterer Anne Wilson, 52, who works at The Anglesey Golf Club, situated at the end of the runway at RAF Valley, witnessed the aftermath of the crash.
She said: ‘I did not see the crash but I heard a very loud noise. We are used to the planes going over but this was unusual, it was different to what we normally hear around here.
‘I did go and have a look and there was a big fireball and lots of dark smoke … quite a few of the members actually saw it. They said the plane came in quite steeply and saw a pilot eject, but that it was very low to the ground when they ejected.’
She said the air ambulance was at the scene ‘for a very long time’.
Sian Rebecca Williams, an 18-year-old student from Rhosneigr, said she was waiting at Rhosneigr train station when the jet flew overhead.
‘The Red Arrow came over and because I’d hardly seen one before I thought ‘Wow, it’s out’,’she said.‘From what I remember it did a loop and flew towards the runway and looked like it was about to land.
‘As I was looking I saw the parachute of one pilot open and then the plane hit the runway with a bang and a crumbling noise. Then it just burned bright orange and there was smoke everywhere.’
Two people are believed to have been on board the Red Arrows jet before it crashed today
The on-base fire engine drove out to the wreckage ‘instantly’, she said, putting the flames out before an air ambulance arrived.
Aviation enthusiast Wyn Evans added that he saw the aircraft get into difficultly after take off, as it continued banking towards the railway line then the airfield.
Councillor Richard Dew from the Isle of Anglesey County Council, who lives close to the RAF base, said: ‘I hope everybody will be fine.
‘This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. I know a lot of people who work on the base, I just hope everyone is fine.’
Another witness, Matthew Calvert, said he was working nearby when he looked up and saw the aircraft ‘wobbling’ before it crashed – followed by a big ball of flames.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We are aware of an incident today at RAF Valley involving a Hawk aircraft. We are investigating the incident and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’
North Wales Police confirmed they were in attendance and were called to the scene at around 1.50pm.
A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We were called shortly before 1.30pm this afternoon to reports an aircraft had crashed at RAF Valley in Holyhead. We sent an emergency ambulance and a Wales Air Ambulance to the scene.’
A Red Arrows display over a charity football match at the ground of non-league team Lincoln United FC tonight has been cancelled due to the crash.
The world-famous aerobatic team performs stunts and daredevil displays, and flies the distinctive Hawk fast-jets.
Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, all Red Arrows pilots have flown operationally in frontline aircraft before joining the display team.
Their usual display covers an area over six miles, with jets flying as close as 15ft apart at more than 400 miles an hour, sometimes flying just 100ft above the ground.
Some 1,500 service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at RAF Valley on Anglesey, which is also home to the military’s search-and-rescue, post-crash team.
The Duke of Cambridge served as a search and rescue helicopter pilot at the base, where about 1,500 service personnel, civil servants and contractors work.