SA RAF pilot killed in accident

2011-11-10 09:03

A South African-born pilot with the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Red Arrows display team died when his ejector seat was activated while he was taxiing on the runway, sending him more than 60m into the air, the Cape Times newspaper reported today.

The cockpit canopy reportedly failed to open properly, forcing Johannesburg-born Flight-Lieutenant Sean Cunningham through the glass hatch.
He landed without an emergency parachute.

Ambulance crews were called to the RAF Scampton airfield in Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom, on Tuesday but his injuries were too severe and the 35-year-old was declared dead in hospital.

The Cape Times reported that the RAF had since suspended all non-essential flying on all its aircraft with that type of ejector seat while investigations were under way.

Cunningham was born and raised in Johannesburg before moving to the UK at the age of nine in 1986.

Although he had the potential to become a professional soccer player, he followed his dream to become a jet pilot with the RAF.

He joined the RAF in 2000 and later flew Tornado GR4S during the Iraq War as part of 617 “The Dambusters” Squadron, based in Scotland.

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