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Nov 09 2011

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Red Arrows pilot killed in ejection seat accident

Photo Elpidoforos Papanikolopoulos (CC BY 2.0)

Less than three months after the tragedy that cost Jon Egging his life, another pilot of the Red Arrows display team died yesterday. F/L Sean Cunningham was killed yesterday when his ejection seat fired while his aircraft was at a standstill.

Despite the accidental firing of the seat, the pilot should have been able to parachute down to safety but it appears that the parachute never deployed. Sean Cunningham died of his wounds a short time after the incident.

This type of accident is extremely rare but, although modern ejection seats are very effective, they are very complex and potentially dangerous pieces of equipment.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.worldwarbirdnews.com/2011/11/09/red-arrows-pilot-killed-in-ejection-seat-accident/

2 comments

  1. Sven Wahl

    Please keep expanding this news blog. The global public should be educated to the fact that if you keep flying a plane, eventually it will crash. It’s just a statistical reality. Myself and a growing mass of aviation enthusiasts believe the war birds should all be grounded. To say, “If it’s a plane it should fly, is like saying you can’t appreciate a Guillotine unless it’s chopping off heads.” Give me a break. Soon we will have no warbirds left to appreciate.

    1. World Warbird News

      Well, you’re entitled to prefer grounded warbirds but that “growing mass of aviation enthusiasts” is still a minority given the fact that more people show go to airshows than to aviation museums.

      The global public should be educated to the fact that if you keep flying a plane, eventually it will crash. It’s just a statistical reality.

      So is driving a car or a boat/riding a horse/walking on the sidewalk/taking an elevator… All of these activities will end in tragedy at some point. Just keep doing them and you will crash the car/sink the boat/break your neck falling off the horse/slip on ice or oil and crack your skull/fall to your death trapped in the elevator. These are also statistical realities, and mean nothing.

      To say, “If it’s a plane it should fly, is like saying you can’t appreciate a Guillotine unless it’s chopping off heads.”

      This comparison seems pretty pointless as it isn’t necessary to kill people to appreciate warbirds and classic aircraft. Oh, and by the way: I’m sure a very clever chap could come up with a way to demonstrate how a guillotine works without actually having to chop a head off, too. He’d have to be quite brilliant, though.

      Soon we will have no warbirds left to appreciate.

      There are more and more restored warbirds, both airworthy and grounded. The number of crashes does not exceed that of rebuilds. Most “historical losses” come from lack of funds, interest, just being abandoned, etc.

      Most of the restorations are done and paid for by people who want to “keep ’em flying”. For this very reason, we will soon have several more DH Mosquitoes on this planet.

      But I guess the final word lays with these guys who build, own, maintain and fly the aircraft. If they want to fly them, it’s their right to do so and I can’t imagine why anyone would challenge this.

      (In anticipation and refutation of the “They don’t own history” argument. Yes, they do, in a sense. If these people didn’t invest time, money and labour in their projects, there would be far fewer warbirds to “protect” or ground.)

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