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Red Arrows Pilot Death Accidental, Coroner Rules
A coroner has ruled that the death of a 33-year-old Red Arrows pilot, who died when his plane crashed during an air show, was accidental.
Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, from Rutland, was performing a routine turn in formation during a display at Bournemouth's annual air festival last August before the crash in a field near the city's airport in Dorset.
An inquest heard he suffered an "almost loss of consciousness" as he turned steeply before what should have been a straightforward landing.
He experienced 6.3 G-Force during the turn which probably led to the blackout.
It is believed he regained consciousness about three seconds before hitting the ground - too late to recover the plane.
Coroner Sherrif Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: "This was a pure matter of fate on this occasion."
A separate inquiry carried out by the Military Aviation Authority concluded that there had been no mechanical or technical faults and had the pilot been flying 70ft higher then he might have had time to pull the plane back up again.
An eye-witness who lives near Bournemouth Airport told the inquest that she saw the plane, Red 4, "belly-flop" onto the ground.
"It wobbled and skidded away. A puff of something came from the back."
It was all over in "split seconds", she said.
Flt Lt Egging's wife, Dr Emma Egging, described to the court how he had previously suffered from neck pain - not uncommon for fast jet pilots - but was in "good spirits" on the day he died.
She watched the performance that day in Bournemouth along with the partners of other pilots.
"Today marks the end of a hard and emotional 16 months for me and Jon's family, as well as for Jon's colleagues and friends," she said after the verdict was delivered.
"Jon's death due to the effects of G-Force induced impairment was a tragic accident.
"I am confident that a full inquiry has taken place by the RAF, and that actions will be taken to help prevent such an accident from happening again.
"Jon was a talented and dedicated pilot, who absolutely loved flying. He loved representing the country as part of the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, and he rose to every challenge with an indomitable spirit and an enthusiasm that was infectious."
She added her focus would now switch to keeping his "zest for life alive" through The Jon Egging Trust.
Dr Egging set up the Trust in memory of her late husband to help young people develop life skills and accredited training.
Earlier, Flt Lt Chris Lyndon-Smith, who flew Red 2, described to the inquest how he saw his colleague's plane go down as they manoeuvered to land.
He called over the radio, instructing him to check his altimeter but he got no response. He tried again, this time by shouting, but still received no response.
The hearing was also shown a computer-generated reconstruction of the incident which happened as the Red Arrows broke formation to come into land.
The inquest heard much about the training and awareness sessions pilots undergo to combat the effects of G-Force.
As well as wearing special trousers that inflate when needed to, pilots of fast jets are also taught an 'anti g-straining manoeuvre' - this involves sucking in the belly button, tensing every muscle and holding one's breath. The purpose is to force oxygen rich blood to the brain to stay conscious.