Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Sea Vixen XN648 Crash at Flat Tor Pan

4 miles north of Two Bridges between the East Dart and West Dart rivers, in a rather desolate area known as Flat Tor Pan where there are scars and debris leftover from the crash of a Sea Vixen plane. The crash occurred on 31st May 1965 during a training flight after the plane entered a spin at 28,000 feet during a fighter tactics sortie. The Sea Vixen FAW 1 XN648 (VL-716) from 766 NAS, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm was completely written off. After the pilot could not recover the aircraft spin, both crew, Sub/Lt. Cotterill and Sub/Lt. Kenward, managed to eject safely.

After the crash most of the larger parts of the aircraft (e.g fuselage) were removed. However, well into the 21st century a few small pieces of twisted metal still lie scattered in the area of blanket bog. The crash site itself is now a large pond which is located on the northern side of the Mires restoration area.

0. Map
Sketch map showing the location of the crash site. The Mires restoration project is marked by the construction of two fenced of areas and are the best ‘marker’ points should the crash site wish to be visited. The peat pass and Flat Tor to the north west are not very distinct.
1. Sea Vixen Crash Site a
The crash site, marked by a large pond. On the day this picture was taken there was a helicopter in the vicinity which, one assumes, was preparing for the ten tors weekend.
1. Sea Vixen Crash Site b
The Sea Vixen crash site is now a large pond, which the author estimates as being 50m diameter.
2. Sea Vixen
The de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen was a British twin-engine, twin boom-tailed, two seat aircraft flown by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. It was carrier based and was operational during the 1950s through to the early 1970s.  It was later called the Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen after de Havilland was absorbed by the Hawker Siddeley Corporation in 1960. There have been no flying Sea Vixens since 2017. (Ref: Wikipedia)
3. Sea Vixen Debris a
There is still a scattering of Sea Vixen debris in the area.
3. Sea Vixen Debris b
Large piece of debris next to the pond
3. Sea Vixen Debris c
No doubt, there will be more pieces of debris below the ground surface which will become evident in the years to come.
3. Sea Vixen Debris d
The large piece of debris by the pond.
4. Helicopter
The helicopter, which is assumed was getting ready for ten tors. It set down on Sittaford Tor and on Rough Tor. The photograph on the left is when the pilot ‘buzzed’ the author and flew directly overhead and the Sea Vixen crash site.
5. Mire Project a
The larger of the fenced off area of the Mires project.
5. Mire Project b
Next to the larger of the fenced off areas are a few plastic pipes, marked by a small peg which one assumes is to measure plant life in a given cross section of the area.
5. Mire Project c
The smaller of the fenced off areas
5. Mires Project d
Within the smaller fenced off area is a construction, which looks like it assists in the water run off to fill downstream pools.

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  1. Joanna Cottrill March 10, 2024

    My father is, Sub/Lt DJ Cottrill! His aircraft

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