Red Arrows Pilot Inquest To Open
An inquest into the death of a Red Arrows pilot who was killed after being ejected from his aircraft at the team's base will open today.
Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after being ejected from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire on November 8.
His family said the pilot, from Coventry, had dreamed of flying RAF fast jets since childhood.
The Iraq War veteran was the second Red Arrows pilot to be killed in less than three months after the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, after performing at the Bournemouth Air Festival in August.
Flt Lt Cunningham joined the RAF in 2000, he flew Tornado GR4s during the Iraq War as part of 617 The Dambusters Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
He joined the Red Arrows in 2010 and was this year promoted to the important Red 5 position in the aerobatics team.
His father Jim, mother Monika and sister Nicolette said in a statement:
"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.
"Sean 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."
The RAF has since lifted a ban on non-essential flying in Tornado attack jets imposed after the death of Flt Lt Cunningham.
All but vital flights in aircraft fitted with Martin Baker Mk 10 ejection seats were suspended while air accident officials investigated the tragedy.
The RAF announced last Thursday that all Tornado GR4 flying can resume, but the ban remains in place for Hawk T1, Hawk T2 and Tucano aircraft.
The inquest into Flt Lt Cunningham's death is expected to be formally opened today at Lincoln Registry Office before being adjourned to a later date.