Lowestoft air show tribute to Red Arrows death crash pilot

THE managing director of the Lowestoft airshow spoke of his shock and sadness this week after a Red Arrows pilot died in a crash, only days after thrilling tens of thousands of people in the town.

Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, was killed when his RAF Red Arrows Hawk T1 came down near Bournemouth Airport on Saturday afternoon after performing at the annual airshow at the south coast resort.

He had apparently guided his stricken plane away from crowds and residential areas.

Eight days before his death, Flt Lt Egging – known as Red4 – had performed with eight other Red Arrows pilots at day two of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, having also closed the first day of the show.

It was Flt Lt Egging's first appearance in Lowestoft and his death has been keenly felt by those involved. The airshow's managing director Paul Bayfield said he was stunned when he heard the news. 'I was really, really shocked. I felt kind of a numbness. It was dreadful to see what had happened,' he said. 'Then I thought they (the Red Arrows) were only here the week before.

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'I feel the Red Arrows are like part of our air show family. They have been at 14 out of 15 air shows and are very popular and very professional pilots – they're part of the air show community. They are consummate professionals. They make me feel that rare thing nowadays; proud to be British. We know how awful we are feeling here and we can not imagine how much worse it must be for his family and friends.'

During the Lowestoft air show, the Red Arrows were based at Norwich International Airport where fans met the pilots. Flt Lt Egging and his fellow pilots also flew over Cromer on Wednesday last week as part of the town's annual carnival.

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Following Saturday's crash, the team has has been grounded while the RAF carries out an investigation. That led to them cancelling planned performances at the Clacton Air Show this week and the Eye Show on Sunday.

Although the cause of Saturday's fatal crash has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence, it has been suggested that Flt Lt Egging's aircraft may have hit a bird.

Mr Bayfield, passing his condolences on to Flt Lt Egging's family and friends, told The Journal that if the Lowestoft air festival went ahead next year he would invite the Red Arrows to perform again.

Flt Lt Egging, who was married and from Rutland, joined the RAF in 2000 and before joining the Red Arrows in the autumn of 2010, had flown Harriers in Afghanistan and had been a Hawk flying instructor.

His wife Dr Emma Egging had been at Saturday's Bournemouth airshow. She said: 'There was nothing bad about Jon. He loved his job and was an exemplary pilot. Watching him today, I was the proudest I have ever been. I loved everything about him and he will be missed.'

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