Defence Secretary in tribute to Tornado jet crew


Defence Secretary Philip Hammond today paid tribute to three Tornado jet crew lost in a crash in the Moray Firth this week.

Mr Hammond said Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole had been killed, and Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey and Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders were missing presumed dead.

"My thoughts - and, I am sure, those of the entire House - are with their loved ones at this difficult time, and with the fourth member of the squadron involved in the incident, who is currently in a serious but stable condition in hospital," he told MPs.

The two Tornado GR4s from RAF Lossiemouth, north-east Scotland, came down south of Wick on Tuesday afternoon.

The crew were all from 15 (Reserve) Squadron.

Squadron Leader Bailey, 36, originally from Nottingham, joined the Tornado Force in 2001, serving in operations over Iraq. He had been an instructor with 15 (Reserve) Squadron since 2004.

Wing Commander Jonathon Moreton said: "He excelled in the role and was quickly recognised as a talented mentor and trusted supervisor.

""His performance earned him promotion to Squadron Leader in 2010 and, after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he returned to XV (Reserve) Squadron as a Flight Commander. He had quickly established himself as one of my most trusted instructors and flight commanders.

"He touched all the parts of the squadron; an immensely likeable character and professional aviator, he will be sorely missed. Sam was fully committed to all aspects of service life; however, he valued his family time the most.

"The squadron's and my thoughts are with his wife Fiona and young daughter Erin at this immensely difficult time. This great loss will be felt intensely by all who knew him."

Flight Lieutenant Poole, 28, was born in Bangor, and had been training on the Tornado GR4 since November last year.

Wing Commander Moreton praised him as a "capable and confident pilot" and "infectious personality".

"Displaying a natural talent for flying the Tornado, he quickly established himself on the squadron as a very capable and confident pilot, which, coupled with his keen sense of humour and engaging character, made him a very popular student on the squadron," he said.

"Outside the squadron, he dedicated much of his personal time to others; he mentored other station personnel who aspired to gain a commission and would always volunteer to raise money for station charities, including Help for Heroes.

"An infectious personality, always cheerful, friendly and immensely likeable, Hywel will be greatly missed by all."

Flight Lieutenant Sanders, 27, was educated at Scarisbrick Hall School in Lancashire before joining the RAF.

Wing Commander Moreton said his skills had been recognised early in his career when he was selected as an instructor on the Hawk T1 aircraft.

"He continued to demonstrate very high standards and a real enthusiasm toward flying the Tornado GR4," he went on.

"I was impressed with his commitment to the squadron; he was a well-liked, hardworking and an enthusiastic individual. He had enormous potential as both a pilot and officer.

"Adam was looking forward to joining 617 Squadron after completion of the Operational Conversion Course.

"I am sure that the loss of this capable and much-admired pilot will be keenly felt by all on my squadron and the Royal Air Force community at large. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

Prime Minister David Cameron added his voice to the tributes yesterday.

"The circumstances still remain uncertain but it's clearly a very serious incident," he said.

The Tornado GR4 is a two-seat attack aircraft capable of delivering a variety of weapons and reaching a maximum altitude of 50,000ft (15,240m).