RAF pilot dead in Spitfire airshow crash as politicians and royals pay tribute to unnamed airman

25 May 2024, 18:41 | Updated: 25 May 2024, 20:41

A Spitfire has crashed in a field in Lincolnshire, at a Battle of Britain airshow, police report.
A Spitfire has crashed in a field in Lincolnshire, at a Battle of Britain airshow, police report. Picture: Alamy/Google

By Chay Quinn

An RAF pilot has died after a Spitfire crashed at a Battle of Britain airshow in Lincolnshire.

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A Ministry of Defence spokesperson 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."

Emergency crews headed to the scene in Coningsby after reports that the aircraft went down just after 1.20pm.

The male pilot, who has not yet been named, was declared dead at the scene.

In an earlier statement, Lincolnshire Police said: “It is believed to be a single occupant aircraft and nobody else is thought to have been involved.”

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it knew about the incident but was not involved as it was a military investigation.

Police have confirmed the location of the aircraft crash as a field on Langrick Road in Congingsby.

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The force closed roads in the Dogdyke Road and Sandy Bank areas and asked motorists to avoid the area and seek different routes.

1947 Supermarine Spitfire FR.XIV, airborne at the Best of British Air Show held at Shuttleworth on the 12th May 2024.
1947 Supermarine Spitfire FR.XIV, airborne at the Best of British Air Show held at Shuttleworth on the 12th May 2024. Picture: Alamy
Langrick Road in Congingsby.
Police have confirmed the location of the aircraft crash as a field on Langrick Road in Congingsby. Picture: Google

The Land, Tank and Military Machines event took place in the airfield today.

The preview for the event said it was scheduled to include flying displays by a Spitfire and other aircraft that were utilised by the RAF during the Second World War, like a Hawker Hurricane and a Avro Lancaster PA474.

The Royal Air Force issued a statement, saying: "We are aware of an incident in the vicinity of RAF Coningsby involving an RAF aircraft.

Only a few dozen airworthy Spitfires remain, including six that belong to the BBMF.

Rishi Sunak said in a post on X: "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."

Sir Keir Starmer said: "Deeply saddened by news from Lincolnshire. Thank you to the emergency services for their response. My thoughts are with the pilot's family at this awful time."

The Prince and Princess of Wales have said they are "incredibly sad" after a Royal Air Force pilot died in a Spitfire crash near RAF Coningsby.

Prince William and Princess Kate said on their Kensington Palace X account: "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."

"We are working with the emergency services and supporting those involved. An update will be provided in due course.

"If you were a witness or have any imagery of the incident please do not post it online, and instead contact Lincolnshire Police on 101 quoting Incident 221."

The Ministry of Defence said it had no comment to make at this time, but a statement would be issued later today.

RAF Coningsby is the training station for Typhoon pilots and has two frontline combat-ready squadrons.

It also hosts the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which aims to maintain historic aircraft in “airworthy condition” to commemorate RAF members who lost their lives in service.

The scheme has six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota, and two Chipmunk aircraft, which are mostly used for training purposes.

The aircraft are flown by regular RAF crew and can be regularly seen in the sky from May to September.

The airfield was opened in 1941 and was a Bomber Command station until the early 1960s.

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