THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Jet fighter hits electric cable at Strabane

From the News Letter, April 8, 1949

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 6:00 am
Flying at a speed of between 450 and 500 miles an hour and at a height of about 600 feet a Royal Air Force Meteor jet fighter had struck electric cables at the Lifford Road in Strabane in April 1949 reported the News Letter

Shocked eyes looked had been looking to the skies this week in 1949 reported the News Letter after a sensational air collision.

Flying at a speed of between 450 and 500 miles an hour and at a height of about 600 feet a Royal Air Force Meteor jet fighter had struck electric cables at the Lifford Road in Strabane.

The pilot, Flight-Lieutenant R C Williams, DFC, was uninjured in the incident but the tail unit of his aircraft was badly damaged.

The News Letter reported: “The mishap occurred when the pilot was making a low-level flight along the River Mourne. The aircraft severed the 33,000-volt cable carrying current across the river.”

Despite this, continued the report, and “by careful handling Lieutenant Williams succeeded in taking the machine to Aldegrove and made a safe landing”.

The electricity supply to Strabane and a number of east Donegal were consequently affected by the incident, including those in Letterkenny, Convoy and Lifford, which were all supplied by electricity from Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Electricity Board rushed workers from Portadown to Strabane to help local staff repair the damaged electricity line and power was restored at about 1.10pm, less than two hours after the accident.

The fighter jet involved in the incident had been a twin-engine aircraft which had been one of a number taking part in a flying display over towns in Tyrone and Londonderry in connection with an RAF recruitment drive. It had been accompanied by a Vampire jet fighter and several Spitfires and had also taken part in displays over Belfast, Bangor and Larne.