Tributes paid to Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Red Arrows pilot and former Southam College pupil who was killed in an accident at an air show on Saturday.

Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft crashed at the end of a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival on Saturday afternoon.

The festival held a minute’s silence and showed a tribute film before displays on Sunday.

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Flt Lt’s wife Dr Emma Egging had seen her husband flying in the display before the accident.

She paid tribute to her husband, who had begun his three-year tour of duty with the Red Arrows this year.

Mrs Egging said: “Jon was everything to those that knew him, and he was the best friend and husband I could ever have wished for.

“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. Watching him today, I was the proudest I’ve ever been. I loved everything about him, and he will be missed.”

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The couple lived in Rutland, but Mr Egging had grown up in Ufton and had attended Harbury Primary School and Southam School.

• Did you know Flt Lt Egging? If you would like to share your memories, call the Courier newsroom on 01926 457720 or email [email protected].

Flt Lt Egging was inspired to become a pilot by his father, who flew airliners.

He joined 2028 (Southam) Sqn Air Training Corps aged 13. During the sixth form he was awarded a Royal Air Force Flying Scholarship and had his first solo flight in a Cessna 152 flying from Wellesbourne Mountford Aerodrome.

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Southam College headteacher Ranjit Samra said the school had been planning to invite Flt Lt Egging in to speak to pupils next term.

He said: “We are devastated. For us it was an inspiration to hear that he reached such a peak in the Red Arrows.

“The school was so proud of him and what he had achieved. Our thoughts and wishes go out to his family at this very difficult time.”

Following a gap year spent working in the UK and travelling around Australia, Jon studied environmental science at Southampton University, where he joined the university air squadron and was awarded a Royal Air Force Bursary in his second year.

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Whilst at University Jon completed Elementary Flying Training with the University Air Squadron, flying the Bulldog; he went on to join the Royal Air Force in 2000. Selected for fast jet training Jon flew the Tucano and Hawk before becoming a ‘Creamie’ Qualified Flying Instructor on the Hawk at Royal Air Force Valley, teaching both students and instructors.

Jon went on to serve with IV(AC) Squadron - ‘Happy IV’ – based at Royal Air Force Cottesmore, flying the Harrier GR9.

Group Captain Simon Blake, the Commandant of the RAF’s Central Flying School, said: “Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, known as ‘Eggman’, joined the Team as Red 4 in the Autumn of 2010.

“A gifted aviator, he was chosen to fly in the Red 4 slot, on the right hand outside of the famous Diamond Nine formation - 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.

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“A true team player, his good nature and constant smile will be sorely missed by all. In such a close knit team, this tragedy will be keenly felt by his fellow team members, the Reds and all of the engineering and support staff, the Blues.”

Air Vice Marshal Mark Green, Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group, said: “I first met Flt Lt Jon Egging in 2003 when I became his Station Commander. Even at that early stage in his career, Jon’s professionalism, competence and ever present smile made him stand out from the crowd. Hence, his eventual selection for duties with the Red Arrows came as no surprise.

“His time with the team was typified by the characteristics that were Jon’s trademark: professionalism, enthusiasm for life and a willingness to help others that transcended all boundaries. Jon will be sorely missed by all those that had the privilege to know him; our thoughts and prayers are with Jon’s family and friends at this tragic time.”

During his time on the front line Jon supported coalition ground forces when flying operational missions in Afghanistan. He has also taken part in exercises in the United Kingdom and America.

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As part of Joint Force Harrier, Jon served with IV(AC) Squadron on HMS Illustrious, flying training missions off the UK coastline. He became the Squadron Qualified Flying Instructor during his last year on ‘Happy IV’, making the transition to teach on the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit, based at Royal Air Force Wittering, in April 2010.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, said: “It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging whilst performing with the Red Arrows today. He was a gifted aviator who was selected for one of the most demanding flying jobs in the RAF. Joining the Red Arrows was his lifetime ambition and he performed with great skill whilst on the team. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Emma and his family and friends at this terrible time.”

An inquiry has begun, and the Ministry of Defence has said it would be inappropriate to speculate on the causes.

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