Battle of Britain Memorial Flight ‘temporarily paused’ after death of pilot in Spitfire crash | UK News

The Royal Air Force has briefly suspended the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) following the passing of a pilot. Squadron Leader Mark Long perished in a Spitfire accident at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, shortly before 1.20pm on Saturday.

The RAF affirmed that during the inquiry into the cause of the crash, BBMF aircraft will remain grounded. A spokesperson stated: “Following the tragic incident at RAF Coningsby, and while the official investigation is in progress, the RAF has initiated a temporary halt in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.”

The BBMF includes historical fighter and bomber planes – among them Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancasters – that participate in air shows and commemorative events.

There were scheduled displays throughout the year, the upcoming being the Midlands Air Festival from 31 May to 2 June, as mentioned in a BBMF schedule on Facebook. Mr Long had served as a pilot at Coningsby, where the BBMF operates, for the past four years.

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A Spitfire, a Hawker Hurricane, and a Lancaster bomber, part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, in 2023. Pic: PA

He was characterized by Group Captain Robbie Lees as a “wonderful friend, coworker, and a dedicated, proficient flyer. He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him.” After being introduced to aviation in his youth, Mr Long joined the RAF and ascended to pilot the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet.

Gp Capt Lees expressed: “I wish to express a heartfelt thanks to the RAF staff and our emergency services associates who acted so promptly yesterday. Our thoughts are with Mark’s family and friends, to whom we offer our most profound condolences. We ask that their privacy be honored during this grievous and shocking period.”

The scene at RAF Coningsby where a pilot died in a Spitfire crash.
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The scene near RAF Coningsby after the crash

Lincolnshire Police mentioned the pilot was the “only occupant of the aircraft” and he succumbed at the location. Following the pilot’s passing, tributes were rendered by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

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