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Wed, Aug 31, 2011

Red Arrows Pilot Remembered

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging Had Red Arrows Uniform, But Heart Of Gold

The Village of Morcott, in the county of Rutland in the East Midlands of England, is remembering 33-year-old Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging as an exemplary pilot and a selfless man who served those around him. Egging died when the Hawk T1 Red 4 aircraft he was flying crashed near Bournemouth Airport during a performance Saturday afternoon, just hours after his wife had watched him perform for the first time.

Dr. Emma Egging, 32, works at the British Museum in London. The couple had been married just over a year. Of her husband, she tells the Rutland and Stamford Mercury, "Jon was everything to those who knew him and he was the best friend and husband I could ever have wished for. There was nothing bad about Jon. He loved his job and was an exemplary pilot. Watching him, I was the proudest I’ve ever been. I loved everything about him and he will be missed."

The couple had reportedly lived in the village of Morcott about four years, and got married at St. Mary’s Church there in June of 2010.

A neighbor, Roger Whittle, concurred with the late pilot's widow. "Jon would do absolutely anything for anyone. His neighbor had been poorly and he had been mowing the lawn for them and he also helped out in the village. He had a heart of gold and I just can’t believe he’s gone. I saw him two days before he died. He was coming out of his driveway in his Red Arrows uniform and we had a laugh and a joke."

Before joining the Red Arrows last fall, Egging had served at RAF Cottesmore where he flew Harriers. Whittle recalled his friend had even let him sit in the jump-jet's cockpit when he became aware of Whittle's interest in flying, a day he says he'll never forget.

Churchwarden Jane Williams said of Egging, "Of course he had a busy schedule, but whenever he could, Jon played a part in village life. I can’t stop thinking about their wedding. It was a shining day, full of love and hope for the future. And it’s gone in an instant – all that potential - and it’s an absolute tragedy."

It's not clear why Egging broke away from his formation, but a catastrophic bird strike is the leading theory so far. Egging did manage to get out a mayday call before the impact. The Hawk T1 slammed into a riverbank, and an autopsy found Egging died of multiple injuries.

After the crash, the display team was grounded. While technically cleared to fly again, all performances through August were canceled, and the Ministry of Defense says it is unlikely the team will perform again this year.

FMI: www.raf.mod.uk/reds/

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