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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 15:21 GMT
Air traffic controller 'distraught'
Wreckage of one of the jets
Wreckage was found near the summit of Ben Macdhui
A military air traffic controller was distraught and had been talking about the death of his father on the day two US fighter jets crashed, a court martial has heard.

The hearing was told on Tuesday that RAF Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Williams, 47, was "jumping from subject to subject" while on duty when two pilots died in the crash in the Cairngorms.

He was jumping about from subject to subject. He was worried about the aircraft, then he jumped to talking about his father and how close he was

Flying Officer Sophie Green
Flt Lt Williams had returned to work at RAF Leuchars, Fife, on March 26, 2001, after two weeks of compassionate leave following the death of his father.

A short time later he found himself caught up in the tragedy involving the two F-15C jets which hit Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms during a snowstorm.

Flt Lt Williams is charged with causing the deaths of the two pilots by telling them to descend to 4,000ft when the minimum safety altitude in the area was 6,500ft.

He faces an alternative charge of negligently performing in his duties which involved providing radar information to the pilots.

Captain Kirk Jones
Captain Kirk Jones died in the accident
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Flt Lt Williams is believed to be the UK's first military controller in living memory to face court martial in connection with a fatal air crash.

Flying Officer Sophie Green, who had been on duty with the air traffic controller in the approach room on the day of the crash, told a court martial hearing that Flt Lt Williams had been feeling "very upset".

'Very upset'

She said he had tapped her on the arm to follow him on to the balcony.

She told the hearing: "He was very worried and told me he thought that two aircraft may have crashed.

"He was worried that the two contacts with the aircraft had been quite strong, and they disappeared."

Lt Col Kenneth Hyvonen
Lt Col Hyvonen was the lead pilot
She went on: "He was feeling very upset.

"He was jumping about from subject to subject.

"He was worried about the aircraft, then he jumped to talking about his father and how close he was."

Flying Officer Green said they then went back inside and Flt Lt Williams jotted down something on a piece of paper.

She then made him a cup of tea.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Hyvonen, 40, and Captain Kirk Jones, 27, who were based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, had been training over Scotland when they were involved in the crash.


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See also:

27 Jan 03 | Scotland
14 Mar 02 | Scotland
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