Red Arrows pilot killed because of failed to open parachute

Nov 10, 2011
Red Arrows

The reason of the death of Red 5 Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was due to the ejection seat parachute failed to open. He dies from multiply injures in the hospital. The incident occurs at the morning of 8th November, when the Red Arrows Hawk T1 aircraft taxi to the runway for a training flight when suddenly the ejection seat fired on. Flt. Lt. Cunningham was throw to about 200 feet and fall to the ground as the parachute failed to open.

Last year the same ejection seat saved the life of Flt Lt Mike Ling when his Hawk plane collided with other piloted by Flt Lt Dave Montenegro. Now the same life saved system caused death.

All RAF aircraft equipped with the same type Martin Baker MK10 ejection seat, are grounded until the investigation explains what caused this fatal incident. These aircraft are all Hawks, Tucano and Tornado GR4.

Red 5 – Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, 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, Sean followed his dream to become fast jet pilot in the Royal Air Force. Sean 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 & Electronic Engineering at Nottingham Trent University and completed his Elementary Flying Training as a member of East Midlands University Air Squadron.

Joining the Royal Air Force in 2000 Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was selected for Fast Jet Training. On completion of his flying training, Sean 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, Sean 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, Sean joined XV (R) Squadron as a Qualified Pilot and Tactics Instructor. Sean continued his instructional role when posted to the Weapon System Officer (WSO) Training Unit at 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force Leeming before being selected to fly for the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (the Red Arrows) 2010.