Pilot killed in ground incident at RAF Scampton
8 Nov 11
It is with regret that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a member of the RAF Aerobatic Team was killed in a ground incident at RAF Scampton earlier today.
Group Captain Simon Blake, the Commandant of the RAF's Central Flying School, has issued the following statement:
"It is with great regret that I can confirm there has been a ground incident involving one of the RAF Aerobatic Team's Hawk aircraft at RAF Scampton that has resulted in the death of the pilot. The pilot was ejected from the aircraft whilst the aircraft was on the ground.
"The Military Aviation Authority is in the process of initiating a full and independent Service Inquiry to determine the cause of this tragic incident. That investigation will determine the facts. It would be most inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the incident.
"The pilot's next of kin have been informed and they have asked for a period of grace before his name is released. Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot's family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.
"At this stage, it is important that we allow the family some time to come to terms with this dreadful and terrible news."
It is with sadness that the MOD must confirm that Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, was killed when he was ejected from his Hawk T1 aircraft on the morning of Tuesday 8 November 2011.
A full Service Inquiry will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham:
Red 5 - Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, aged 34, was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to the UK in 1986 at the age of nine. Although a profession in football was a possibility, he followed his dream to become a fast jet pilot in the Royal Air Force. Flt Lt Cunningham attended Ernesford Grange School in Coventry, during which time he qualified for his Private Pilot Licence at the age of 17. He went on to read Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nottingham Trent University, and completed his Elementary Flying Training as a member of East Midlands Universities Air Squadron.
Joining the Royal Air Force in 2000, Flt Lt Cunningham was selected for Fast Jet Training. On completion of his flying training, he was posted to the Tornado GR4 aircraft serving on 617 'The Dambusters' Squadron at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth. During his three years on the Squadron, Flt Lt Cunningham completed several operational tours of Iraq as part of Operation TELIC, flying close air support missions for coalition ground forces.
After completing exercises in America, Canada, Romania and France, Flt Lt Cunningham joined XV (R) Squadron as a Qualified Pilot and Tactics Instructor. He continued his instructional role when posted to the Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) Training Unit at 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming, before being selected to fly for the RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, in 2010.