Did low-flying ‘military plane’ cause M1 pile-up in Northamptonshire? Driver claims motorists were distracted ahead of serious crash

Robert Cochrane-Gough's Jaguar was left badly damaged in a collision on the M1 on Friday, July 18.

Robert Cochrane-Gough's Jaguar was left badly damaged in a collision on the M1 on Friday, July 18.

A ‘large military aeroplane’ could have led to a three-car pile-up on the M1 near Northampton after claims distracted drivers feared it was going to land.

Robert Cochrane-Gough was catapulted 20-feet when his Jaguar was in collision with a people carrier at around 6pm last Friday (July 18).

The IT account manager, who lives in London and has three children, was travelling southbound past junction 16 of the M1, when ‘a large military plane’ swooped low over the motorway before banking left and right, he claimed.

Twitter users also reported seeing a large aircraft in the area at around that time.

But Mr Cochrane-Gough, 48, says he believes the unusual sight caused drivers to look up and miss a stationary line of traffic ahead of them.

He said: “It did flash through my mind that - oh my God, this plane looks like it is coming into land, it was a massive distraction.

“I spoke to one of the other drivers involved and he said exactly the same thing.”

Mr Cochrane-Gough had to brake hard when he saw the queue of traffic ahead of him, he said, pulling to one side so a silver car directly behind him did not hit.

He claimed it was the following vehicle, a people carrier, that was in collision with his rear passenger side at around 50mph.

He said: “I spun a full 180 degrees, and whilst in the air, my front nearside wing hit the car in front. It was a full HD, Matrix-like slow-motion event; all objects and glass flying round the cabin, accompanied by a metal-on-metal crunching soundtrack.”

Mr Cochrane-Gough is currently on sick leave with severe whiplash, but feels he is lucky to be alive. Now he is questioning why military planes were flying so low in the area at that time.

“Surely a military plane should not be flying over a motorway at rush-hour?” he said. “I can’t believe this has never been raised as a potential risk.”

It is believed the aircraft in question was a Hercules transporter performing low-flying training manoeuvres, on a regularly-used route from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, although this has yet to be formally confirmed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Jeff Bell, the aerodrome manager at Sywell Aerodrome, in Northamptonshire, said its control tower was warned of a Hercules performing manoeuvres in the region at about 6pm on Friday.

He said: “I have been in this job for 10 years and that route is used up to two times a week by all sorts of military aircraft, from Apache helicopters to carriers and Tornadoes. It is a low-flying training route.”

Mr Bell said the training route passes through Northamptonshire via Raunds, Finedon, Sywell and Pitsford, crossing the M1 corridor in the process.

The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for a response.




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