Widow of Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging speaks of loss
- 22 August 2011
- From the section England
The widow of a Red Arrows pilot who died after an air display says she has been overwhelmed by the tributes paid in the wake of his "devastating" loss.
Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, died when his Hawk T1 aircraft crashed into a field at the village of Throop near Bournemouth Airport on Saturday.
Dr Emma Egging described him as "an amazing friend and husband".
Bournemouth Air Festival observed one minute's silence before the start of Sunday's display.
"The tributes that have poured in over the last two days... both online and here in Bournemouth have just been astounding," said Dr Egging.
"It's very heartfelt when I say thank you to everybody, both personally on my behalf and on Jon's behalf and I know the Red Arrows are completely bowled over by the support."
She said Saturday had been the first time she had seen her husband perform a full display.
"I was on the beach so I was really proud. Everything that happened yesterday at the same time was obviously completely devastating."
An inquest into Flt Lt Egging's death has been opened and adjourned in Bournemouth.
Consultant aviation pathologist Wing Cdr Graeme Maidment, who carried out a post-mortem examination, told the inquest the cause of death was multiple injuries.
Coroner Sheriff Payne said it was unlikely that a full inquest would be held for up to 12 months.
There has been speculation he was trying to avoid houses when he crashed.
Among those who paid tribute were Brian May, from rock group Queen, who had recently spent a day with the Red Arrows team.
He described Flt Lt Egging, known as Eggman, as "a hero in anybody's book".
He said: "These men and women are the hardest of nails. But their humanity and wickedly humorous team spirit was a joy to be around.
"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."
The RAF said Flt Lt Egging, who grew up in Southam, Warwickshire, joined the team in the autumn of 2010 and flew on the right hand outside of the famous Diamond Nine formation.
The number of books of condolence open in Bournemouth for public tributes has now been increased to six, with hundreds of people queuing at the town hall to add their signatures.
The council said it would hand the books to Flt Lt Egging's family, along with any donations given by members of the public for the family's chosen charity.
And the council asked anyone wishing to leave floral tributes to place them on the grass banks around the Town Hall.
Group Captain Simon Blake, the commandant of the RAF's Central Flying School, said that the Hawk team T1 aircraft has been grounded by the Ministry of Defence "temporarily until its safety can be assured".
He added: "As for the rest of the season it is too early to speculate as to when the Red Arrows will be back on the public circuit but suffice to say for the short term they will not be able to perform in public."
The Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, and the rest of the Hawk T1 fleet, based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, stands at more than 170 aircraft.
All nine Red Arrows display pilots are fast jet pilots from front line Royal Air Force squadrons.
Flt Lt Egging joined the RAF in 2000 and served with IV(AC) Squadron based at RAF Cottesmore, flying the Harrier GR9 in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The Red Arrows have used the dual control BAE Systems Hawk T1 aircraft since 1979.