Red Arrows Grounded Following Midair
Both pilots survived, one with injuries, when two Royal Air Force Red Arrows BAE Hawk jets collided while flying a crossing maneuver during practice at Heraklion in Crete, Tuesday. One aircraft crashed after the contact but its pilot, Flight Lieutenant Mike Ling, ejected at about 1000 feet, suffering cuts and a dislocated shoulder. The second aircraft landed safely, missing a portion of its vertical fin and with damage to its right stabilator from contact with the other jet. The surviving aircraft and seven other Red Arrows aircraft have been grounded at Greece's Kastelli air force base, pending investigation. It's been some 30 years since Red Arrows aircraft have crashed due to in-flight contact, according to Guardian UK. An incident in 1971 killed two Red Arrows pilots.
The Red Arrows have flown more than 4,000 displays in more than 50 countries since the team was formed in 1965. The current team has already been training for four months for the coming 2010 airshow season. The group had only been in Greece for a few days and was not scheduled to return to the UK until May 25. The team this year includes its first female pilot. The Red Arrows' first 2010 flight display is scheduled for May 23 at Paphos, Cyprus, pending results of the crash investigation.