UK stunt pilot dies after ejecting from airplane

AP News
Posted: Nov 08, 2011 2:39 PM
UK stunt pilot dies after ejecting from airplane

A stunt pilot with the British military's Red Arrows aerobatic display team died Tuesday after being ejected from his aircraft while it was on the ground.

The Royal Air Force released few other details, saying an investigation had been opened.

The aviator's name was not released, although Group Cpt. Simon Blake said family members had been informed.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot's family and friends at this difficult time," he said in a brief statement.

The pilot is the second from the nine-member stunt team to die within three months.

In August a Red Arrow pilot died when his jet crashed after taking part in an air show in southern England. Afghanistan war veteran Flight Lt. John Egging had joined the elite flying squad only a year earlier.

The team's jets were briefly grounded but have since been given the go-ahead to return to the skies.

The Ministry of Defense said the team's training had been suspended following Tuesday's incident.

Last year the Red Arrows had an accident when two jets crashed in training in Crete, although neither pilot was seriously injured.

Other flight demonstration teams, including the United States Air Force's Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, have had deaths in training and during displays, although they are relatively rare.

In 2007, Blue Angels pilot Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis died at an air show in South Carolina when he briefly lost control of his F/A 18 Hornet jet.

Canada's Snowbirds have had several fatal accidents, most recently a training crash in 2007 that killed a pilot.

The Red Arrows are famous for their airborne stunts, red, white and blue vapor trails, dramatic fly pasts and trademark diamond formation. Formed in 1965, they have flown more than 4,000 displays in 53 countries. Their red single-engine jet trainers are a familiar sight at air shows and military events.