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Praise for courage of tragic Red Arrows pilot

By Terri Judd

Clockwise from top: Dylan Blakeman (9) and father Ian, from Southampton, leave tributes at Bournemouth Airport; Red Arrows pilot Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, who crashed to his death after performing with his stunt team on Saturday; the wreckage of the plane after the crash; the famous Red Arrows in action Ben Birchall/Christopher Furlong

THE iconic Red Arrows were grounded yesterday as investigators tried to unravel the cause of the greatest tragedy to hit the team for almost a quarter of a century.

Tributes poured in for Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, whose jet crashed just minutes after completing a display at Bournemouth Air Festival on Saturday afternoon.

The 33-year-old, Red 4 in the Diamond Nine display, was praised for his selfless bravery in steering the Hawk T1 away from houses and a family park as it plummeted to the ground.

Witnesses described how the jet appeared to suddenly fly lower than the rest of the team before a crack like a car backfiring and a rushing sound were heard.

Dorset police said Flt Lt Egging, 'Eggman' to his friends, had been thrown from the plane.

Locals who rushed to the rescue found him in the River Stour, near Throop, without his ejection seat but with an open parachute.

The pilot, who had been with the team less than a year, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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