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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Red Arrows take to the skies for first display as eight-plane team after death of one of their pilots

The Red Arrows today gave their first aerobatics display as an eight-man team after the death of one of their pilots last month.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, died when his aircraft crashed near Bournemouth Airport on August 20 after performing at an air show.

Since his death, his team-mates have been practicing eight-plane formations, and put on a 20-minute display without him for the first time at Chatsworth Country Fair this afternoon.

Eight man display: the Red Arrows took to the skies at Chatsworth House Country Fair for the first time since the death of pilot Jon Egging last month

The RAF stunt team is traditionally composed of nine members, and does not have a reserve pilot due to the intensity of work required to maintain the skills that go in to their displays.

Further performances scheduled for this weekend have been cancelled, as the pilots will be attending Flt Lt Egging's funeral.

The funeral is private, but a public memorial service will take place later this year.

Flying high: Traditionally the Red Arrows always fly with nine pilots and the team had to learn new eight-plane formations for today's display

Taking to the skies: It was the first Red Arrow display since the death of Jon Egging last month

Daredevil: Thousands watched the performance at Chatsworth House Country Fair

The Duke of Devonshire, whose estate hosts the fair, said: 'We are delighted that the Red Arrows have decided to take flight again at Chatsworth but of course it will be a day of mixed emotions.

'There will be thousands of people enjoying the show but it will be tinged with sadness as people remember Flight Lieutenant Egging.

'I think it will give everybody a greater appreciation of the expertise needed for a display like this and of the enormous risks taken on our behalf by the armed forces.'

Practice: The remaining Red Arrows had to learn new eight-plane formations as they do not have a reserve pilot

One man missing: The Red Arrows do not have a reserve pilot because of the intensity of training and level of expertise

Display: Thousands watched as the Red Arrows took to the skies for the first time today

Following an investigation into the causes of Flt Lt Egging's crash, all 126 of the RAF's Hawk T1 jets were temporarily grounded.

However, last Thursday they were given the all-clear to return to the skies, and the troupe has been rehearsing its new formation ever since.

Squadron Leader Ben Murphy, leader of the Red Arrows, said the team was resuming public displays in Flt Lt Egging's memory.
And then there were eight: The Red Arrows

Spectacular: All other weekend performances have been cancelled as the Red Arrows will be attending Jon Egging's funeral service

'Jon, as a Red Arrows pilot, encapsulated everything that is the "Best of British",' he said.

'He was an exceptional pilot and a dedicated RAF officer who saw service for his country, but, moreover, he was a selfless and compassionate friend who will be sorely missed.

'The fortitude, resilience and pride that Jon showed in life are exactly the qualities that define our armed forces and it is these that will enable us to get back on our feet and move on.'

'A day of emotion': Crowds cheer today's display and Jon Egging's crash site, has been turned into a memorial to him

Skid: Flt Lt Egging's crash left a distinctive scar across the Dorset countryside

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