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3 April 2010, 07:54
Organisers of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival are confident the Red Arrows will return to the town in August this year, despite a pre-season training accident last week.
The world-famous Red Arrows aerobatic team were undertaking pre-season training in the Mediterranean island of Crete when two of the nine aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision.
Both pilots escaped serious injury but one of the Hawk aircraft crashed on to the runway of the Hellenic Air Force Base at Kastelli, Crete, where the team are currently based.
The aircraft were being flown by Flt Lt Mike Ling and Flt Lt David Montenegro, both of whom flew with the Red Arrows at last year’s Lowestoft airshow.
Flt Lt Ling ejected from his aircraft and sustained a dislocated shoulder and minor injuries. Although his aircraft was damaged at the rear Flt Lt Montenegro managed to land his Hawk safely with no injuries.
A RAF spokesman said: “A Service inquiry has been launched and an air crash investigation team is now in Crete.
The accident occurred soon after Lowestoft Air Festival organisers had received confirmation from the RAF that the Red Arrows would be appearing on both days of the town’s 14th Air Festival on Thursday August 12 and Friday August 13.
Paul Bayfield, managing director of the “not for profit” Air Festival company, said: “We are relieved that both pilots involved in this mid-air collision escaped without serious injury and amazingly that one of them succeeded in safely landing his damaged aircraft.
“We are pleased to hear that training will soon be resumed and we look forward once again to welcoming the fabulous Red Arrows back to Lowestoft. It would not be the same without them because they have appeared here every year but one since the Lowestoft Air Festival began 13 years ago.”
The RAF events team has also confirmed that in addition to the Red Arrows Lowestoft had also been allocated the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Shorts Tucano, BAe Hawk solo jet, King Air and Tutor training aircraft and a Sea King search and rescue helicopter.
All the RAF aircraft are scheduled to display on both days and this exciting news comes shortly after organisers were given the go-ahead to include the world’s only airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber on their programme again this year.
This follows an anonymous donation of nearly £500,000 which has enabled the delta-winged aircraft’s private operators, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, to continue giving displays in the 2010 airshow season.