The very first Red Arrows’ female pilot Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart, age 34, has been re-assigned from flying duties, as she suffering from stress after the deaths of two team’s pilots last year. Flt. Lt. Stewart will not fly at all for at least six months and will takes ground role within the Royal Air Force. She joined Red Arrows in 2009 as Red 9.
On 20 August 2011, Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, died in an air show crash near Bournemouth Airport. Three months later on 8 November, Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after being ejected from his plane while still on the ground at RAF Scampton during training. Both incidents are still under investigation.
“This has had an adverse effect on Kirsty and has resulted in the Royal Air Force deciding that it would be more appropriate for the individual and the service if Kirsty is reassigned.”- Defence source said.
Meanwhile the famous RAF aerobatic display team will fly only seven aircraft in 2012 show season. There is no time to train another Red 9 pilot, but we are surprised why the MoD decided to cut another flying position. Red Arrows ended 2011 season in eight-ship displays, so there is no problem to fly again in eight Hawks. This means one more Red Arrows display pilot to stay on the ground. This is Flight Lieutenant Dave Davies, Red 8, who will no longer fly on displays, but be retained to provide essential Team support and also to conduct flypasts together with Sqn Ldr Mike Ling, Red 10.
“The Red Arrows will conduct aerobatic displays with seven aircraft rather than the usual nine in 2012 due to the unavoidable posting of one of their pilots. With safety paramount, but the quality of the displays vitally important, it has been decided that seven aircraft presents the most visually balanced and dynamic formation. The team will still carry out official flypasts with nine aircraft. The Red Arrows will return to a full aerobatic formation of nine aircraft in 2013.” – said Ministry of Defence spokesman.