Pilot from Britain's Red Arrows killed in jet crash

20th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Red Arrows pilot died on Saturday when his plane crashed following an acrobatic air display over the southern English coast, defence officials said.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging's Hawk jet crashed in a field at Throop village several hundred metres from Bournemouth airport after taking part in the nearby air show with the famous team from Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF).

The 33-year-old, who previously served in Afghanistan with the RAF and was known to colleagues as "Eggman", was thrown from the plane when it crashed at around 1:50 pm (1250 GMT), emergency services said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His wife Emma Egging watched him perform in the Bournemouth Air Festival just moments before his death, and paid tribute to him as an "exemplary pilot."

"Watching him today, I was the proudest I've ever been. I loved everything about him, and he will be missed," she said in a statement.

After the air show, Egging was coming in to land but his jet lost height and flew metres above the ground before crashing into a field and ending with its nose in a river, witnesses said.

Officials said it was too early to speculate on what could have caused the crash. Air investigators are probing the accident.

Shaun Spencer-Perkins was out for a walk with his family when he saw the plane come down. "I heard a rushing sound and I saw a plane about 15 metres above the ground racing across the fields," he told the BBC.

"It impacted and bounced across the field, made it across the river."

Egging had been in the RAF for more than a decade and one of his postings was in Afghanistan where Britain is fighting a Taliban insurgency as part of a NATO-led force of international troops, according to the defence ministry.

A defence ministry statement confirmed the death: "Flight Lieutenant Egging was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft -- Red 4 -- crashed around 1 km (0.6 miles) southeast of Bournemouth Airport."

The Red Arrows comprise nine jets and are each flown by a single pilot, who takes three years out of his military duties with the RAF.

The planes trail smoke behind them, which helps the pilots judge wind speed and direction during displays, and also looks good as they loop through the air.

© 2011 AFP

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