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Widow of Red Arrows pilot 'Eggman' hears how he blacked out performing landing manoeuvre and only came round three seconds before fatal crash
Jon Egging, 33, broke formation at air show in 2011 and crashed into a field
Flt Lt Egging experienced the G-force for a long period of time at high speed creating the 'worst combination', says Wing Commander RoddenInquest heard in last three seconds before impact Egging appeared to try to re-take control of aircraft as he came out of 'almost loss of consciousness'Coroner records verdict of accidental death today
17:59 GMT, 13 December 2012
A Red Arrows pilot blacked out due to the effects of G-force seconds before he died in a plane crash.
Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, 33, suffered an 'almost loss of consciousness' when he pulled six times the force of gravity as he broke formation at an air show near Bournemouth Airport, an inquest heard today.
He was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft came down and crashed into a field on August 20, 2011.
Tragic: Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging suffered an 'almost loss of consciousness' moments before his plane crashed into a field, an inquest heard today
Devastation: The scene of the crash with the wreckage of the plane Egging was flying pictured among bushes near Throop, Dorest in 2011
An aerial view of the crash scene, pictured, as it was heard today Egging started to regain consciousness three seconds before the plane crashed but it was too late
A coroner today recorded a verdict of accidental death. Coroner Sherrif Payne said: 'This was a pure matter of fate on this occasion.'
The inquest held at Bournemouth Coroner's Court heard he suffered ALOC (almost
loss of consciousness) and there was little reaction from Flt Lt Egging
when another pilot shouted at him to check his height.
It is believed the pilot started to regain consciousness three seconds before the plane crashed into a field and tried to recover from the situation by bringing the nose of the plane up, but it was too late for the pilot to eject or avoid hitting the ground.
The inquest was told that Flt Lt Egging, known as 'Eggman', was experiencing a maximum 6.3 G-force – 6.3 times the force of gravity – as he broke formation before he was due to come into land. A roller-coaster ride would reach about 5 G-force.
Dr Emma Egging, widow of the Red Arrows pilot, pictured arriving for the inquest into his death at Bournemouth Coroner's Court today
A service inquiry carried out by Military Aviation Authority found that flying 70 feet higher could have made the difference between landing the aircraft and the crash.
Flt Lt Egging would have been travelling at about 370mph when he performed the peeling off manoeuvre.
Wing Commander Nicholas Green, a medical expert for the RAF, said G-force can
result in an increase in blood pressure resulting in less blood and
oxygen getting to the brain.
He said that pilots didn't like to report instances of G-force
impairment due to either peer pressure or fear of being grounded by
Wing Commander Mark Rodden, president of service inquiry, said that Flt Lt Egging had succumbed to G-force impairment and that inadequate G-force awareness was also a possible contributory factor to the accident.
He said the inquiry had ruled out any technical or mechanical fault with the aircraft.
An eye witness described the red and white Hawk coming down into the field in a straight line before it 'belly flopped, wobbled and skidded' out of sight.
Flt Lt Egging, who lived in Leicester with his wife, died instantly from multiple injuries that were so serious they would have been impossible to survive, the inquest was told.
His wife, Dr Emma Egging, 33, told the inquest that before the display there had been a 'buzz' amongst the pilots and their families and that Bournemouth was a highlight in the display season.
She said it had been the first time she had seen her husband perform a full display with the Red Arrows and she had felt ‘chuffed’ by it.
Dr Egging said her husband had suffered from back and neck pain in the
weeks leading up to the crash.
She said the couple, who were married a
year before the tragedy, had been on a five mile run on Bournemouth
seafront on the morning of the display.
Dr Egging, a doctor of archaeology at the British Museum, said: 'Jon was in extremely good spirits.
'I spent the day watching the display
with some of my friends. It was a particularly good display because I
hadn’t seen Jon doing a full display before.
'I was chuffed I could see him do that.'
Flight Lieutenant Chris Lyndon-Smith, known as Red 2, was flying just behind Flt Lt Egging, Red 4, when the incident happened.
He told the inquest: 'It became apparent to me that 179 was going down pretty quickly.
'I shouted on the radio 'four, check height'. I then got back on the radio and said the same thing, I think I shouted it out to try to get Jon to react and get his aircraft away from the ground.
'I was looking down at his jet. At the time I didn't think I saw any change or reaction.
'That was the frustrating thing, at the time I was trying to tell Jon to check his height and I wasn't seeing a response from his aircraft.
'Being so low, I would have expected to see him pitch the nose up and apply some power.
'There was no response from my eyes and from what I saw and because Jon was not reacting, from what I was seeing he was not controlling the aircraft at that time.
'Whether right at the end he was, I don't know.'
The inquest was shown a computer generated reconstruction of the incident which happened as the pilots were breaking formation to come in to land.
Flt Lt Lyndon-Smith said the video seemed to show Red 4 lose height, rather than gain height during the peeling off manoeuvre.
Jon and Emma Egging are pictured on their wedding day. Mrs Egging told the inquest that before the display there had been a 'buzz' amongst the pilots and their families
Wing Cmdr Rodden told the inquest there were a number of contributing factors that played a part in the incident.
He said that Flt Lt Egging had experienced the G-force for a long period of time at high speed creating the 'worst combination'.
added that the inquiry had found the pilot may have been performing an
'ineffective' anti G-force straining manoeuvre and that two of the zips
on Flt Lt Egging G-force trousers – which help reduce the effects of the
force – were slightly undone, although he could not say if this
happened before or after the crash.
told the inquest that in the last three seconds before impact Flt Lt
Egging appeared to try to re-take control of the aircraft.
He said that at this point the G-force would have been about 3.5 G and Flt Lt Egging would have been coming out of ALOC.
RAF pilots from the Red Arrows display team, Squadron Leader Ben Murphy, left, and Flight Lieutenant Chris Lynon-Smith, right, pictured arriving at the inquest
RAF Wing Commander Mark Rodden, who was President of the Service Enquiry into the air crash that killed Flt Lt Egging, left, and right, RAF Group Captain David Bentley
He said: 'Three-and-a-half seconds prior to the impact Jon was trying to regain control of the aircraft.
'Evidence showed the controls were still being held but the aircraft would have required an additional 70ft for recovery.
'Given the proximity to the ground any attempt to eject would likely to have resulted in fatal injury.'
He said another factor in what happened
had been a 'cultural attitude' to G-force among the Red Arrows pilots
resulting in them having a false sense of security over it.
The RAF elite display team had
under-reported problems with G-force in the past which meant they didn’t
receive as much training to deal with problems as they could have.
The design of their anti G-force flying suits had hardly changed since they were produced in the 1950s.
Wg Cmdr Rodden said: 'We asked the crew
to tell us their thoughts about ALOC. The vast majority did not know
where to find guidance on ALOC.
Flowers were laid in memory of the much-loved husband on the banks of the river Stour near where Mr Egging died
'One of the difficulties is that you may
not know it has happened to you. You may think you were greying out
(impaired vision) but could have been out for a couple of seconds.'
He said that no mechanical faults were found with the plane and flying conditions were perfect on the day.
A post-mortem examination showed Flt Lt Egging died instantly from multiple injuries.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Sheriff Payne said: 'The likely cause (of the accident) was g-force impairment or
ALOC. It appears this was a high-level g compared with what they had
done earlier that day.
'Did he not do the anti-g strain manoeuvre We can never know.
'The almost loss of consciousness you may not even know about until
afterwards. At the speed he was doing, we are talking about a matter of
'It does seem to be the case that pilots can go through an entire career with never a problem like this.
Widow Dr Emma Egging stands in the centre of the Red Arrows team at the opening of the memorial designed by Bournemouth school children ahead of the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2012
Part of the wreckage of the plane is pictured. An eye witness described the red and white Hawk coming down into the field in a straight line before it 'belly flopped, wobbled and skidded' out of sight
'You can be fit and well and suddenly it comes upon you. This was a pure matter of fate on that occasion.'
Flt Lt Egging joined the RAF in 2001 and
had served in Afghanistan. He became an instructor of Red Arrows’ hawk
jets and joined the elite display team in October 2010.
In a statement, Dr Emma Egging said after the inquest: 'Jon's death, due to the effects of g-force induced impairment, was a tragic accident.
'I'm confident a full inquiry has taken place by the RAF and actions will be taken to help prevent such an accident happening again.
'Jon was a talented and dedicated pilot who absolutely loved flying.
'He loved representing the country as part of the RAF Red Arrows and rose to every challenge with an indomitable spirit and an enthusiasm that was infectious.
'Most of all he loved his family and being part of the team and having the opportunity to bring out the best in people.'
Ft Lt Egging's family have set up the Jon Egging Trust, which develops opportunities for young people who are under-achieving at school.
Three months after his death, tragedy struck the Red Arrows again when
Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed at their base at RAF Skampton,
Flt Lt Cunningham was ejected from his sat while his jet was still on the runway and died from multiple injuries.