RAF Aerobatic Team
Pilot Killed When Ejected From Aircraft While On The Ground
By Shane Nolan
November 9, 2011 - Capt Blake of the Royal Air Force has
confirmed that on Tuesday there was a ground incident
involving one of the RAF Aerobatic Team BAE Hawk T1
aircraft that resulted in the death of a pilot,
Lieutenant Sean Cunningham.
The pilot was accidentally ejected from the aircraft while the aircraft was on the ground. The accident happened at the Royal Air Force Station Scampton which is a Royal Air Force station situated north of Lincoln in England.
accident occurred at or about 11 AM local time. An air ambulance
airlifted the pilot to Lincoln County Hospital where the pilots
died from his injuries. The Military Aviation Authority has
begun an investigation into the cause of the accident. Capt
Blake said ?The investigation will determine the facts. It would
be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the incident until
that inquiry is complete.
the second accident this year for the RAF Aerobatic Team. On
August 20, 2011, a RAF Aerobatic Team Hawk aircraft crashed near
Bournemouth Airport following a display at the Bournemouth Air
Festival. Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, pilot of Red 4, was
killed in the accident.
Red 5 ?
Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 34, was born and raised in
Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to the UK in 1986 at the
age of nine. Although a profession in football was a
possibility, Sean followed his dream to become fast jet pilot in
the Royal Air Force. Sean attended Ernesford Grange School in
Coventry during which time he qualified for his Private Pilot
Licence at the age of 17. He went on to read Electrical &
Electronic Engineering at Nottingham Trent University and
completed his Elementary Flying Training as a member of East
Midlands University Air Squadron.
Joining the Royal Air Force in 2000 Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was selected for Fast Jet Training. On completion of his flying training, Sean was posted to the Tornado GR4 aircraft serving on 617 ?The Dambusters? Squadron at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth. During his three years on the Squadron, Sean completed several operational tours of Iraq as part of Operation TELIC, flying close air support missions for Coalition ground forces.
exercises in America, Canada, Romania and France, Sean joined XV (R)
Squadron as a Qualified Pilot and Tactics Instructor. Sean continued his
instructional role when posted to the Weapon System Officer (WSO)
Training Unit at 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force Leeming before being
selected to fly for the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (the Red Arrows)
Flight Lieutenant Cunningham?s family, Father Jim, Mother Monika & Sister Nicolette said ?Sean was first and foremost a much-loved son and brother who will be dearly missed by all of his family, and his many good friends. Since his childhood Sean had dreamed of flying fast jets in the Royal Air Force; through his hard work and dedication he achieved that dream, and the pinnacle of his career was to fly in the Red Arrows.
loved his flying and we hope that his life will be an inspiration to all
those who share his dreams. His fun-loving nature has never failed to
put a smile on the faces of those who knew and loved him; this is how he
will be remembered. We ask that the media please allow us the time and
space required to come to terms with what has happened?
The Rt Hon Phillip
Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Defense said ?It was with great
sadness that I heard of the death of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham.
He was clearly a gifted pilot who served his country with honor and
distinction throughout his career in the Royal Air Force. As a Red
Arrow, Flt Lt Cunningham was regarded as among the most talented
aviators in the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and
friends at this terrible time."
Commanding Number 22(Training) Group, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Lloyd said
?The Red Arrows personify the teamwork, professionalism and excellence
that is common-place throughout the Royal Air Force and Flight
Lieutenant Sean Cunningham demonstrated each of these values on a daily
basis. His contribution to the Service as an aviator in the Tornado GR4
Force, as a Red Arrows Pilot and as an officer has been outstanding.
Sean will be missed by all and our thoughts and prayers are with his
family and friends.?
Group Captain Simon Blake, the Commandant of the RAF's Central Flying School, said ?Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham joined the team in October 2010 and flew for his first year as Red 3. This year, Sean had commenced training as Red 5 and was the senior member of the ?front 5? affectionately known as ?Enid?, and thus had the unofficial mantle of ?Uncle Enid?? a key position in mentoring and helping to train the new pilots to the team.
smile, energy, and joie de vivre was infectious and he will be sorely
missed by his fellow pilots, the entire Red Arrows team and his many
colleagues and friends in the wider Royal Air Force. Our heartfelt
sorrow and sympathy go out to his family and all those whose lives he
The Red Arrows,
officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the
aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton.
The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number
of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands. In late
1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have
performed over 4,000 displays worldwide in 53 countries .
The BAE Systems
Hawk is a British single-engine, advanced jet trainer aircraft. It first
flew in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk. The Hawk is used by the Royal
Air Force, and other air forces, as either a trainer or a low-cost
combat aircraft. The Hawk is still in production with over 900 Hawks
sold to 18 customers around the world.
The Hawk is a tandem two seat aircraft and has a low mounted cantilever monoplane wing and is powered by a non-augmented turbofan engine. The low-positioned one piece wing was designed to allow a wide landing gear track and to enable easier maintenance access. The wing is fitted with wide-span, double slotted, trailing-edge flaps for low-speed performance.
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