The pilot walked away uninjured after the aircraft, known as the Foxy Lady, did a “belly-landing” on return to its base in Yeovilton. Scott Dabinett, 32, captured amazing photos of the incident, which saw the pilot make an impressive landing without landing gear after flying back from the Duxford Air Show in Cambridgeshire.
He said: “As soon as we saw the pilot was OK we all started breathing again. Everyone was shaking. The emergency guys were on the scene straight away and took control of the situation.”
Mr Dabinett said the aircraft had taken off at 4.15pm and they waited one hour and 10 minutes for it to return.
He added: “The aircraft returned from Duxford and flew up the runway. We then heard radio communications between the tower and the pilot asking for visual of the landing gear. The response was your undercarriage is clean, which means it is still up. After several more passes and discussion between pilot and tower and other emergency personnel, it was soon announced that this was going to be a gear-up belly landing. The feeling between the few of us standing by was that this does not look good. On the final approach we all crossed our fingers and held our breaths whilst pointing our cameras at the Sea Vixen. As soon as she touched the runway the canopy was released and engines were shut down. She slid up the runway very smoothly and under control. It was much quieter than I was expecting. Eventually she came to a stop. We kept waiting for movement from the pilot.”
Sea Vixen XP924 “Foxy Lady” is operated by Fly Navy Heritage Trust Navy Wings. It first flew on September 23, 1963 and was delivered to 899 Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton on December 18, 1963. Retirement from active service sent her to Royal Naval Aircraft Yard at Belfast in August 1971. The aircraft was gifted to Naval Aviation Ltd in September 2014 and now operates from the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
The Sea Vixen is an unusually configured aircraft that first flew in 1951.