An RAF pilot was flown to hospital after making an emergency landing at Newcastle Airport.
It happened after the cockpit of the Hawk training aircraft filled with fumes.
Plane spotters watched as the pilot and co-pilot, flying out of RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, and a Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland landed just after 11am yesterday.
The helicopter was seen immediately taking off again to fly the pilot to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for assessment.
An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF can confirm a Hawk aircraft from RAF Leeming diverted to Newcastle Airport yesterday morning with a technical issue that resulted in fumes in the cockpit. The aircraft landed safely and the pilot of the aircraft was transferred for precautionary medical checks.”
Hawks entered service with the RAF in 1976 for advanced flying and, as with the 100 Squadron planes at Leeming, weapons and tactical training.
Hawks are also the chosen aircraft of the Red Arrows display team, which has used them for all their displays since 1979, including those over the start and end of the Great North Run.
In 2008, some Hawks were replaced with a new generation of aircraft, the Hawk 128, designed as a stepping stone for pilots moving up to the new advanced Eurofighter Typhoons.
No details of the type of Hawk involved, or the pilot, were released, but an RAF Leeming spokesman said it was likely the aircraft had been on the way to another airbase, rather than training in the area, when it ran into difficulty.
A Newcastle Airport spokeswoman said the drama had not affected its commercial flights. She said: “Two RAF Hawk aircraft from RAF Leeming landed earlier at Newcastle Airport. Both aircraft landed safely and there has been no disruption to the operation as a result.”
Police said concerns had been raised about an aircraft at 11am but they had been told it had landed safely six minutes later.