Pilot of Red Arrow acrobatic plane dies in British crash

20th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The pilot of a Red Arrow plane from Britain's Royal Air Force died on Saturday when his plane crashed during an acrobatic air display over the southern English coast, defence officials said.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, was killed when his Hawk jet crashed into a field at Throop village, near Bournemouth International Airport, after he took part in a successful display for Bournemouth Air Festival.

Emergency services raced to the scene of the crash which happened at around 1:50 pm (1250 GMT) but could not save the pilot, known to colleagues as "Eggman", after he was thrown from the jet which flew low then crashed by a river.

Police and defence officials said it was too early to speculate on what could have caused the crash.

Egging had been in the RAF for more than a decade and had several postings, including a stint in Afghanistan where the British military is fighting a Taliban insurgency as part of a NATO-led force, according to the Ministry of Defence.

"Flight Lieutenant Egging was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft -- Red 4 -- crashed around 1 km (0.6 miles) South East of Bournemouth Airport," said a ministry statement.

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."

He said there was no fire but debris from the plane and aviation fuel was scattered everywhere.

Colleagues paid tribute to Egging, who had joined the Red Arrows late last year, as a gifted pilot who loved flying since a young age.

"A true team player, his good nature and constant smile will be sorely missed by all," said Group Captain Simon Blake, who is responsible for training the Red Arrows.

"In such a close knit team, this tragedy will be keenly felt by his fellow team members."

He is survived by is wife Emma.

The Red Arrows comprise nine jets and are each flown by a single pilot, who take three years out of their military duties with the RAF to perform daring acrobatic manoeuvres and flypasts across Britain each summer.

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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