Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Red Arrows Kirsty quits after deaths of two pals

---But worried bosses ruled she was not "in the right place" to fly and made the tough decision to reassign her.

Well, I dunno. The worry that you can be sitting in your jet and ejected at any moment due to a faulty mechanism would be enough to get to anybody!

From the Sun: Red Arrows Kirsty quits after deaths of two pals
BRITAIN'S first female Red Arrows pilot has quit — suffering from stress after the deaths of two flying pals in the daredevil team.

Talented Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart, 33, has been [re]moved from the tightly-knit aerobatic outfit and will be posted to a ground role.

She will not fly at all for a period yet to be agreed by RAF bosses — but it could be up to six months.

And the world-famous team will have just SEVEN jets instead of the traditional NINE in displays this year.

Sources say Kirsty has been hit incredibly hard by the deaths last year, which were just three months apart.

Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33 — Red 4 — died in August when he crashed near Bournemouth after a display watched by his wife.

Then in November Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35 — Red 5 — was killed when he was ejected from his Hawk T1 while it was on the runway at RAF Scampton, Lincs.

The strain of the double tragedy left gifted Kirsty unable to be absolutely focused on flying her 500mph jet for another demanding display season.

She was due to be a Red Arrows pilot for one more year. But worried bosses ruled she was not "in the right place" to fly and made the tough decision to reassign her.

A defence source said: "Not many people outside of the Red Arrows will understand the pressure and busy schedule that the team endure in a normal season. These have been exacerbated by the tragic events of 2011.

"This has had an adverse effect on Kirsty and has resulted in the Royal Air Force deciding it would be more appropriate if she is reassigned."

The loss of Kirsty, who flew as Red 9, is another blow for an incredible team who wow crowds across the globe with their jaw-dropping daredevil flying tricks.

She was due to take part in high profile displays this year — possibly including the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics, which will be seen by a TV audience of millions Kirsty made history when The Sun revealed in 2009 she was to be the Red Arrows' first female pilot. She joined the RAF in 1998 and graduated to piloting Tornado war planes based at RAF Marham in Norfolk. She flew in Iraq before passing the notoriously tough selection process for the Arrows.

An MoD spokesman said: "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. The MoD will not comment on personnel issues nor individual postings.

"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."

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