July 22, Pittston, Pa. / Hawker Hunter


At 0859 eastern time, an unregistered Hawker Hunter T Mk 7A crashed shortly after takeoff from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, killing the pilot. The airplane was operated by Northern Lights Aerobatic Team, which had just purchased the airplane and was ferrying it to Canada. The airplane was based at Wilkes-Barre after it was imported from the United Kingdom and it was sold in June 2002 to a company in Florida. When a pilot tried to deliver the airplane to the buyer, he experienced mechanical difficulties and returned to Wilkes-Barre. The airplane sat in unpreserved storage for a year at Wilkes-Barre. Northern Lights bought the airplane in June 2003 and replaced the Rolls Royce engine with another. The accident pilot then attempted to depart but aborted the takeoff due to a perceived problem with the anti-skid. No problem was found. The airplane then embarked on the accident flight as the second airplane in a flight of two. Witnesses said the engine did not sound as loud as they expected, nor did the airplane accelerate quickly. It did not rotate until nearing the end of the 7,501-foot runway. At rotation the nose came up steeply and the airplane rolled from side to side. It descended to the ground with the nose about 20 to 30 degrees high.


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