MD F-15C Eagle(s)

Ben Macdui, Cairngorms, Aberdeen.













Aircraft Photo / Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: 84-0015 / LN F-15C Eagle of RAF Lakenheath's 48 FW 493 FS. [Wikimedia]


This and the following photo show aircraft from the same fighter wing and squadron as those that crashed at Ben Macdui.


MD F-15 Eagle


Photo: 2010 Jerry Gunner from Lincoln, UK.


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.



BELOW: A US Air Force (USAF) F-15C Eagle aircraft from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, United Kingdom (UK), parked on the tarmac at RAF Lakenheath. [Wikimedia]


MD F-15 Eagle at RAF Lakenheath


Photo: 2001 SRA James L. Harper Jr., USAF


This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


McDonnell Douglas/Boeing USAF F-15C Eagle(s) / AF86 0180 and AF86 0169


(Two aircraft)



The McDonnell Douglas F-15 was designed as a successor to the F-14 Phantom. The first variant (F-15A) was a single-seat, twin turbo-fan, swept wing aircraft. The F-15 was powered by Pratt and Whitney F-100-PW-100 turbofan engines (shown below).




F100-PW-100 on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia. [Wikipedia]


F100-PW-100 engine


Photo: 2010 Rtphokie


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



The F-15's maximum speed at high altitude was 2,655km/h (1,650 mph).


The cockpit was equipped with a heads up display (HUD) projected onto the windscreen, advanced radar, UHF communications and many other technical / electronic innovations. Extensive use was made of titanium in the construction of the airframe.


The F-15 was armed with a 20mm cannon capable of discharging almost 1,000 rounds. On external pylons, it could carry AIM-7 Sparrow or AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.






Aircraft Accident Details


From USAF Official Accident Report.


6/11/2003 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN)


An Air Force Accident Investigation Board determined the cause of fatal F-15 Eagle accident was a breakdown in terrain avoidance responsibilities between the pilots and air traffic controllers1 on the ground.

This breakdown led to a descent below safety altitudes without the pilots having positive visual contact with the ground.

The pilots, who were on a low-level training mission, crashed near the remote summit of Ben Macdui in the Cairngorm mountain range of Scotland, on March 26, 2001. The pilots and aircraft were assigned to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.

Both pilots were killed.



Footnote 1


Air Traffic Controllers: At a subsequent Court Martial, the air traffic controller at RAF Leuchars, Flt Lt Malcolm Williams, was cleared of all blame for this incident.






Aircraft Pilot  Casualties


The airmen who died were:


Both pilots were attached to the 48th Operations Support Squadron.






Crash Site Photos


Recovery Operation


The recovery operation was carried out by Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) struggling against blizzard conditions, in sub-zero temperatures, and with almost zero visibility.


BELOW: Equipped for the recovery dig.


equipped for the dig


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: A distant shot of the tail fin showing the conditions under which the recovery team was working.


The entire surrounding area was blanketed with deep snow.


distant photo of tail fin showing deep snow conditions


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: Recovering part of the twin-finned tail section from one of the two F-15C aircraft which crashed on Ben Macdui.


The tail code 'LN' indicates that this aircraft was attached to the 48th TFW.


recovering the tail section from an F-15C


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: One of the twin fins from F-15C  AF86 180.


The projections on the fin-tips are:

  • Starboard fin-tip (shown here): Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) antenna.

  • Port fin-tip (not shown here): Radar warning antenna.

one of the twin fins from AF86 180


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



More Photos Below








BELOW: Preparing to recover the tail fin from the deep snow.


digging the tail fin out of the deep snow


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The largest section of F-15 wreckage shown here.


Larger sections of wreckage were cut up before being removed from Ben Macdui.


the largest section of f-15 wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: A caterpillar-tracked snowmobile tows wreckage to the recovery area.


caterpillar-tracked snowmobile moves wreckage to recovery area


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The recovery team ignite an orange smoke flare to indicate to the helicopter pilot  the intended landing zone. It also provides the pilot with an approximate indication of wind speed and direction.


orange flare for benefit of helicopter


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: Recovery team members prepare to approach the helicopter.


The snow thrown up by the helicopter's rotor blades has created almost white-out conditions, which partially obscures its presence in the photo.


recovery team members waiting for the helicopter


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The RAF Puma helicopter used in the F-15 recovery operation on Ben Macdui.


the puma helicopter used in the recovery operatiion


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.


















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 26 Mar 2001


Accident Site:

Ben Macdui (Beinn MacDuibh) (1,309 m / 4,294 ft.)


(Cairngorm Mountains)


Region: Aberdeenshire.


Nearest towns or villages:

Kingussie, Braemar, Ballater, or Grantown-on-Spey


Nearest large towns or cities: Inverness (NW), Aberdeen (E), or Dundee (SE).


GPS Refs: N/A


Present Condition: Wreckage recovered from, or buried at, crash site. Some small parts only remain on the surface.



Other air crash in this vicinity:


RAF Avro Anson GR1 / DJ106 crash at Ben Macdui in 1942.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serials (2 x aircraft):
AF86 0180
and AF86 0169

Operator: USAF (493 FS  / 48 FSS)

Operating Station / Base: RAF Lakenheath.

Station / Base Location: Lakenheath, Suffolk, England.

Current Station / Base Status: Operational Military Air Station (RAF / USAF)

Current Station / Base Name: RAF Lakenheath.



Related Links



Accident Specific Links

RAF Air Traffic Controller's Ordeal

RAF Mountain Rescue (Overview of post crash clear-up.)


McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15 Eagle Links

F-15 Tactical Fighter at Boeing.

F-15 Eagle at Wikipedia.

F-15C Eagle at AceCombat.

F-15s at HowStuffWorks.


RAF / USAF and Related Links

48th Fighter Wing.

493rd Fighter Squadron.

RAF Benson (Puma helicopter base).

RAF Lakenheath.

RAF Mountain Rescue.



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