RAF pilot dies after Spitfire crashes in field during Battle of Britain event

Prince William and Kate are among those who have paid tribute to the pilot

Holly Evans
Saturday 25 May 2024 21:44
A stock image of a Spitfire being flown
A stock image of a Spitfire being flown (Peter Green)

An RAF pilot has died in a “tragic accident” after a Spitfire plane crashed into a field in Coningsby, Lincolnshire during an event to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

Police and emergency services rushed to the scene at just before 1.20pm on Saturday, after receiving reports that the Second World War aircraft had gone down.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “It is with great sadness that we must confirm the death of an RAF pilot in a tragic accident near RAF Coningsby today.

“The pilot’s family have been informed and we ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.”

Supermarine Spitfires are often flown in World War Two memorial events
Supermarine Spitfires are often flown in World War Two memorial events (PA)

It was a single-occupant aircraft and nobody else is thought to have been involved, Lincolnshire Police said.

In a personal tweet on Twitter/X, the Prince and Princess of Wales said: “Incredibly sad to hear of the news this afternoon from RAF Coningsby.

“Our thoughts this evening are with the pilot’s loved ones, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the wider RAF family. W & C.”

The Prince of Wales was Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Coningsby between 2008 and 2023 before handing over the role to the Princess of Wales in August 2023.

Rishi Sunak also paid tribute to the pilot, writing on Twitter: “Awful news to see the life of a serving RAF pilot cut short in this tragic event.

“My thoughts are with their family and loved ones.”

The aircraft was reportedly a Supermarine Spitfire that was used both before and after the Second World War.

It was designed by R J Mitchell, and was famed for its role during the Battle of Britain, when it played a crucial role in defeating Luftwaffe air attacks.

The Spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) was flying near the air station when the crash took place.

It is not the first time a pilot has been killed in the historic aircraft, with one killed last August when a replica Spitfire crashed in the Oxfordshire village of Enstone.

Six Supermarine Spitfires are currently operated by the RAF as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a unit that provides an aerial display group for state occasions and commemorative events.

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