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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Motorway reopened after jet crash
Crashed jet
The jet shortly after the crash on the motorway
A jet aircraft which crashed onto the M11 killing one of the crew has been moved and the motorway reopened.

Cambridgeshire police named the dead man on Monday as Gary Clarke, who is believed to be from Essex.

Emergency workers said it was a "miracle" no vehicles on the motorway had been hit by the plane.

The two-seater L-39 jet came to a standstill on the southbound carriageway after failing to stop on landing at Duxford airfield, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday.

It's sad that somebody's lost their life and amazing that no one else has been involved

Ted Inman
Imperial War Museum

A police spokeswoman said one person who ejected from the aircraft was killed and the other member of crew - who remained in the plane - received minor injuries.

"The privately owned two-seater landing at Duxford airfield landed on the runway but is believed to have suffered a brake failure and overshot the runway, ending up on the M11," she said.

Both carriageways of the motorway were closed while the wreckage was cleared.

The northbound carriageway was reopened by 2230BST on Sunday, while the southbound section was only cleared on Monday morning after contractors worked through the night.

Ken Lyndon-Dykes
Co-owner of the jet Ken Lyndon-Dykes

The jet crashed through a wooden fence at the bottom of the grassy airfield and then skidded across the northbound carriageway over the central reservation, bending it slightly, and coming to rest on the road surface.

It has been taken to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford following the completion of a preliminary investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Ted Inman, director of the war museum, said the plane was based at North Weald, near Harlow, Essex.

"It's sad that somebody's lost their life and I find it amazing that no one else has been involved," he said.

'Sparkling condition'

"The air accident people will have to look at it and we will look at the implications with them and see if any lessons can be learned."

Ken Lyndon-Dykes, co-owner of the plane with Gary Clarke, who died, said the jet had just undergone rigorous testing.

As he visited the crash scene, he said of the plane: "It was in sparkling condition."

Speaking about Gary Clarke he said: "He was a wonderful, wonderful man.

"A family man and full of life, very proficient, very professional.

"This is a great shock to all of us. He was a terrific guy."

Police said it was one of the busiest days of the year on the M11.

Neil Thompson, of Cambridgeshire Fire Service, said: "Fortunately, somewhat miraculously, no motor vehicles are thought to be involved in the incident."

The aircraft was an L39 - an eastern bloc jet equivalent to the Hawk.

This type of jet featured in the opening sequence of the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

The L-39 jet was a standard training aircraft for the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

The single engine, two-seater craft made its first flight in 1968, and has gone through many improvements and developments since, with sales reaching their peak in 1989.

More than 2,200 have been sold to both private buyers and military clients.

The BBC's Ben McCarthy
"One of the co-owners says a technical fault is unlikely to have been the cause"
The BBC's Helen Simms
"The jet had apparently been fully serviced"
The BBC's Helen Simms
"Initial reports say the passenger who ejected died"
Catherine Feast, Cambridgeshire Police
"It landed on the runway, had some kind of brake failure... and ended up on the central reservation"
Neil Thompson, Cambridgeshire Fire Service
"A large blanket of foam was laid down as a precaution"

Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
See also:

02 Jun 02 | England
19 May 02 | Wales
18 May 02 | England
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