Red Arrows pilot dies in Bournemouth Air Festival crash
An RAF Red Arrows pilot died when his plane crashed following a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival in Dorset.
Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft - Red 4 - crashed about 1km south east of Bournemouth Airport at 13:50 BST.
Eyewitnesses described seeing the plane plunge to the ground in a field near the River Stour at Throop village.
It was one of nine Red Arrows aircraft that had earlier taken part in a display over the seafront.
In a statement Flt Lt Egging's wife, Dr Emma Egging, described her husband as "an exemplary pilot" and said watching him during the display was the "proudest" she had ever been.
"Jon was everything to those that knew him, and he was the best friend and husband I could ever have wished for," she said.
"I know that he would have wanted me to say something from the heart at this time. There was nothing bad about Jon.
"He loved his job and was an exemplary pilot.
"I loved everything about him, and he will be missed."
Flt Lt Egging was inspired by his airline pilot father who used to take him 'down route', allowing him into the cockpit for take off and landing.
Speaking to his local newspaper, The Leamington Observer, in May, the 33-year-old said being part of the world-famous team was "an absolute privilege".
"You are so focussed and working so hard to concentrate you just don't get a chance to feel scared," he added.
Gp Capt Simon Blake, the commandant of the RAF's Central Flying School, said Flt Lt Egging, known as 'Eggman', had joined the team as Red 4 in the autumn of 2010 and flew on the right hand outside of the famous Diamond Nine formation.
He said this was "an accolade in itself - being the most demanding position allocated to a first-year pilot".
"Throughout his winter training and the display season to date, his professionalism, skill and humility have shone through," he said.
"A true team player, his good nature and constant smile will be sorely missed by all."'Cracking sound'
Air Vice Marshal Mark Green, Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group, also paid tribute to the pilot saying: "Jon's professionalism, competence and ever-present smile made him stand out from the crowd."
Red Arrows Hawk T1 Aircraft
- Two-seater, single-engined advanced training aircraft
- Length: 38ft 11in (11.8m)
- Wingspan: 30ft 10in (9.5m)
- Thrust: 5,200lbs
- Max altitude: 48,000 ft (14,630 m)
- Max speed: 638 mph (1,025 km/h) in level flight and 915 mph (1,472 km/h) in a dive
- The Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire
- Manufacturer: Hawker Siddeley/BAE Systems (United Kingdom)
- Used by the Red Arrows since 1979
Shaun Spencer-Perkins, who witnessed the crash from Throop Mill, said: "I heard a rushing sound and I saw a plane about 15m above the ground racing across the fields.
"It impacted and bounced across the field - made it across the river."
Another eyewitness, Nicholas Gore, 22, from Throop, was walking with a friend near the river when he saw all nine Red Arrows go over.
"There were quite a few people watching and we saw them go over but one seemed quite low," he said.
"They then disappeared behind trees and I heard a crack, not an explosion, just a crack and we got further down and I saw the plane with its red tail in the air and its nose in the river."
The mayor of Bournemouth, councillor Chris Rochester, said: "I cannot express strongly enough the immense sympathy I have, both personally and on behalf of the people of Bournemouth, for the family of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging.
"The RAF has clearly lost an exceptional pilot and his family a man who was loved and cherished."
Bournemouth Borough Council leader Peter Charon said he had arranged for the authority to open two books of condolence on Sunday for people to express their sympathy after the crash.
In a statement, the borough council asked anyone wishing to leave floral tributes to place them on the grass banks around the Town Hall.
A statement on the Bournemouth Airport website said the airport was closed "for a short time but is now back to normal operations".'Truly magnificent'
Organisers of the Bournemouth Air Festival said events were continuing as scheduled.
Mark Smith, head of Bournemouth Tourism, said: "It is the wishes of the RAF to continue with their other flying displays at the Air Festival tomorrow, and the pilots have expressed their wishes to continue. The Red Arrows will not be performing."
He said the Red Arrows display prior to the crash had been "truly magnificent and magical".
A Ministry of Defence spokesman it was investigating the incident.
The crash site remains cordoned off by police and only people living inside the zone are being allowed access.
The Military Air Accident Investigation Branch were also admitted through the cordon to start work on identifying the cause of the crash.
All nine Red Arrows display pilots are fast jet pilots from frontline Royal Air Force squadrons.
Each aircraft can carry enough diesel and dye to create five minutes of white smoke, one minute of red and one minute of blue.
Both cockpit seats are fitted with Martin-Baker Mark 10B rocket boosted ejection seats.