Woman Red Arrow affected by deaths
Britain's first female Red Arrows pilot is to move to a ground role after two of her flying colleagues were killed in separate tragedies.
Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart, 33, is to be reassigned after the "tragic events" of 2011 had an "adverse effect" on her, a defence source said.
In August, Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, from Rutland, died in an air show crash near Bournemouth Airport in Dorset. Three months later, Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after being ejected from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
Flt Lt Stewart, who flew as Red 9, will not fly for a period yet to be agreed by RAF bosses - but it could be up to six months, the Sun reported. She will be posted to another role within the RAF and it is understood that her departure is not the subject of any disciplinary issues or related to her gender.
A defence source said: "Not many people outside of the Red Arrows will understand the pressure and busy schedule that the team endure through a normal season. These factors have been exacerbated by the tragic events of 2011.
"This has had an adverse effect on Kirsty and has resulted in the Royal Air Force deciding that it would be more appropriate for the individual and the service if Kirsty is reassigned."
The 33-year-old made history in 2009 when she became the first woman in the Red Arrows' aerobatic display team. Her reposting means the team will have seven jets rather than the usual nine for aerobatic displays this year, although nine will be still used in official flypasts.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The Red Arrows will conduct aerobatic displays with seven aircraft rather than the usual nine in 2012 due to the unavoidable posting of one of their pilots.
"With safety paramount, but the quality of the displays vitally important, it has been decided that seven aircraft presents the most visually balanced and dynamic formation.
"The team will still carry out official flypasts with nine aircraft. The Red Arrows will return to a full aerobatic formation of nine aircraft in 2013."