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US Air Force Super Sabre jet fighter crash on Gorleston riverside

PUBLISHED: 15:23 29 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:23 29 April 2018

Wreckage of the US jet fighter on Gorleston riverside. The pilot ejected to safety. 
Picture: Mercury Library

Wreckage of the US jet fighter on Gorleston riverside. The pilot ejected to safety. Picture: Mercury Library

Archant

It was school half-term, October 27, 1964 – and a US Air Force F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter plunged into Gorleston’s riverbank, bursting into flames.

Looking down on the smoking Gorleston riverside crater from one of the damaged houses on the main road. 
Picture: Mercury LibraryLooking down on the smoking Gorleston riverside crater from one of the damaged houses on the main road. Picture: Mercury Library

Digging around in the Mercury’s archives located these pictures, which will be familiar to our long-time readers, but perhaps the incident is unknown to others.

Eyewitnesses of the time remember the grey streak of the plane coming down and a ball of flame.

One young witness said: “Just before the plane went down, one of the boats had come in past the very same spot - had it been just a few moments later, the plane might have clipped its mast.

“Suddenly the jet came in from the east, over the Birds Eye factory, and went into a dive and ploughed into the mudflats on the opposite bank and burst into flames.”

The jet exploded at Darby's Hard In Gorleston, a place well used by small craft, Longshore fishing boats etc. Picture: C2565The jet exploded at Darby's Hard In Gorleston, a place well used by small craft, Longshore fishing boats etc. Picture: C2565

The pilot, Capt James Chestnut, based at Lakenheath in Suffolk, had safely ejected after two mid-air explosions caused his controls to freeze over the North Sea, but eye-witnesses were unaware he had landed safely near Lawn Avenue in Yarmouth.

It was reported that he had tried to point the jet out to sea before he baled out, but it came inland. There was damage to the houses and boats along the river from the wreckage, but it was a miracle nobody was killed or injured.

It was schoolboy’s dream with youngsters picking up pieces of the debris – no doubt some residents will still have them.

Debris is scattered on Gorleston High Street as people gather outside houses and shops. Picture: C2562Debris is scattered on Gorleston High Street as people gather outside houses and shops. Picture: C2562

A narrow escape for the busy High Street, Gorleston, after a jet fighter crash in 1964. 
Picture: Mercury LibraryA narrow escape for the busy High Street, Gorleston, after a jet fighter crash in 1964. Picture: Mercury Library

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