Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Red Arrows practice formations for the first time since loss of pilot in crash
Man down: Eight Red Arrow Hawk T1 jets practise flying in a diamond formation over RAF Scampton, in Lincolnshire, today as they resumed training for the first time following the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging
For decades the Red Arrow aerobatic display teams have flown at airshows across the country with nine planes in their trademark formations.
Eight of the aircraft took to the sky yesterday as they resumed training for the first time since Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging was killed in a crash.
Villagers watched with pride as the pilots put their Hawk T1 jets through a 35 minute practise session above their base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.
Although they have a spare tenth plane there are only nine pilots trained to take part in the formations. In the past they have performed as groups of eight at air displays when one of the team has been unwell.
Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, was killed on August 20 during a display at Bournemouth, Dorset, when he failed to eject as his plane crashed.
The remaining pilots performed a range of manoeuvres including flying in their trademark diamond formation. They took off as two groups of four before re-grouping in the air so they could practice together.
Red Arrows leader Squadron Leader Ben Murphy said he and his colleagues felt 'great sadness' at returning to their base without Flt Lt Egging.
He added: 'The pain and shock of losing Jon is still very real, and very raw, and all of our thoughts and prayers are with Jon's wife Emma and with his family.
'Whilst we are feeling a very personal grief, the public response to Jon's tragic death has been overwhelming and humbling and I would like to thank all those who have paid tribute to Jon by sending flowers, cards and letters and be assured that these have been of great comfort to Jon's family and to us.
'In particular, I would like to thank the people of Bournemouth and Lincolnshire and, especially, the Dorset emergency services who have all shown great compassion and sensitivity.
'Jon, as a Red Arrows pilot, encapsulated everything that is the 'Best of British'; he was an exceptional pilot, a dedicated RAF Officer who saw service for his country but, moreover, he was a selfless and compassionate friend who will be sorely missed.
Killed in action: Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging died in Bournemouth, Dorset, at an air display show on August 20. He failed to eject as his plane got into difficulties
'The fortitude, resilience and pride that Jon showed in life are exactly the qualities that define our Armed Forces and it is these that will enable us to get back on our feet and move on.
'For that reason, and in Jon's memory, the Red Arrows will be displaying to the public again at the earliest possible opportunity.
Images/Source: © Albanpix/Mail Online