US servicemen commemorate death of RAF Lakenheath pilot in crash tragedy
- Credit: Airman 1st Class Cedrique Oldaker/Facebook
American servicemen based at RAF Lakenheath have paid tribute to a fighter pilot who died after his jet crashed into the North Sea one year ago.
An F-15C fighter being piloted by Lt Kenneth Allen, of the 48th Fighter Wing, went missing on a training mission on June 15 last year.
The wreckage of the jet was found off the East Yorkshire coast the same day and it was later confirmed Lt Allen, known to friends and family as Kage, had died in the incident.
The 27-year-old's body was subsequently returned to the US for his funeral.
Lt Allen's wife Hannah said in a statement after his death: "No words to express how shaken I am. Kage was perfect, never been treated with more love and respect in my life."
An accident investigation board report into the crash, released by United States Air Forces In Europe, later found a lack of visibility and resulting “spatial disorientation” were key contributors to Lt Allen’s death.
The report also highlighted Lt Allen's “fixation” on intercepting a simulated enemy aircraft during the mission, as well as failure to perform “cockpit instrument visual scans”.
There were said to be multiple cloud layers up to 25,000ft at the time of the exercise, and Lt Allen did not eject prior to his aircraft entering the sea.
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To mark a year since Lt Allen's passing on Tuesday, a moment of silence was observed by the Liberty Wing at around 9am.
The 493rd Fighter Squadron then flew over Heritage Park at RAF Lakenheath in a missing man formation - where one jet is out of shape to create a space where an aircraft should be.
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Lt Col Todd Pearson, 493rd Fighter Squadron Commander, paid tribute to Lt Allen after he was commemorated with the flyover.
He said: "The missing man formation more than symbolizes the absence of Lt Allen and countless other aviators lost in the service of our country.
"It serves to remind us of the cost of freedom, and the ultimate sacrifice made by so many service members in the defence of our great nation.
"Kage was a great aviator and airman, and he is sorely missed around the squadron."