Red Arrows to fly two short after local tragedies

By Matthew Bates 19/03 Updated: 20/03 08:43

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Flt Lt Sean Cunningham died after he was ejected from a grounded plane at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. (s)

THE RED Arrows will be performing this summer with two less jets following the tragic deaths of two pilots from the area last year.

Flt Lt Jon Egging, who grew up in Ufton near Southam and also attended school in the town, was killed in May when his Hawk T1 crashed in a field near Bournemouth airport minutes after a display at an airshow on the sea front, and Flt Lt Sean Cunningham from Coventry died of multiple injuries after he was ejected from a grounded plane and his parachute failed at an RAF base in Lincolnshire in November.

As a result the world-famous RAF aerobatic display team will perform with seven planes instead of the usual nine, although the full nine are expected to create the famous 'diamond nine' formation for a fly-past over Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The last few months have been some of the hardest endured in the team's 47-year history.

But squadron leader Jim Turner insisted while never forgetting Flt Lt Egging and Flt Lt Cunningham, they were determined to 'continue in true RAF spirit'.

He said: "The 2012 display will conform to a traditional format of synchronised formation aerobatics during the first half of the display followed by a more dynamic second half."

The Red Arrows pilots left for Cyprus last week for nine weeks of intensive training ahead of the summer performance programme.

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