I want to say a few words about Red Arrows pilot Flt Lt Jon Egging – a hero in anybody’s book.
It’s plain that Jon sacrificed his life yesterday to save civilians below, as he piloted his stricken Hawk jet away from housing, finally ejecting only when it was too late to save his own life.
Only a few weeks ago, just before we played our gig at RAF Cranwell, Kerry and I had the rare privilege of spending a day in the company of this amazing aerobatic team – world famous for their incredible skill, offering a very special kind of uplifting entertainment which they make look easy, but requires a pinnacle of skill and dedication which perhaps is not fully realised by those who watch them painting those awesome pictures in the sky. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of being inside one of those red Hawks, as it rolls and loops and batters your body with a crushing forces up to 4 and a half G. It was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. But in the time I was hurled around the sky by ‘Planky’ – my personal sky rocker – it never occurred to me to feel fear … and indeed I was not in any danger … these guys do not make mistakes. What people often don’t hear about is exactly what membership of this elite team entails. All these pilots have seen active service overseas, in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc … and nobody is even considered for inclusion in the team if they don’t have literally thousands of hours experience under their belt. They then train intensively and launch into a schedule, all year round, which hardly allows them a single day off. They reach an almost unimaginable level of consistency, utterly dedicated to their performance in the air, on which the lives of their team mates depend, literally every second they are in formation. Then, after three years, no pilot is allowed to stay. They all go back out into active service, defending their country and our way of life. These men and women are the hardest of nails. But their humanity and wickedly humorous team spirit was a joy to be around.
This is a heart-breaking time for the whole team, a time which will test their courage in even more ways than usual. We send them our heartfelt condolences to them and to “Eggman”s wife and family. We salute you Jon. God Speed.
Bri and Kerry in a privileged moment, a couple of hours before the Reds took us up into the sky.
Jon is second from left, Planky second from right. – Photo © BM.
And for those of you who have an OWL handy … the 3-D version.
and later, kitted up …
– taken from the Black Hawk – seen below.