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Cancellation of iconic Battle of Britain memorial flight disappoints as investigation into fatal crash causes Lancaster bombers, Spitfires, and Hurricanes to not fly in honor of 80 years since D-Day.

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The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) aircraft, including Spitfires and a Lancaster bomber, will not be flying in the D-Day commemorations following the tragic death of Squadron Leader Mark Long in a Spitfire crash near RAF Coningsby. The decision to cancel the flybys was made in an effort to ensure the safety of pilots and the public, as the cause of the crash remains unknown. Squadron Leader Long, a married father of two, was described as a remarkable individual who touched the hearts of everyone he met. The entire BBMF fleet, consisting of historic wartime planes, will remain grounded until the investigation is concluded.

Squadron Leader Mark Long, who tragically lost his life in the Spitfire crash, had flown with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for four seasons. His distinguished career in the Royal Air Force included flying Tucano, Hawk, and Harrier aircraft before joining the Typhoon Force in 2012. As an instructor and Typhoon Display Pilot, he played a vital role in teaching student pilots and defending UK sovereign airspace. The crash involving the Spitfire, a historic aircraft that participated in D-Day and shot down an enemy aircraft, was the first fatality in the BBMF’s history since its establishment in 1957.

The decision to ground the BBMF aircraft includes not participating in the D-Day 80 commemorations on June 5 and 6, 2024. This decision comes after the crash investigation indicated that the cause of the incident is still unknown. The BBMF fleet, which consists of Spitfires, Hurricanes, a Lancaster bomber, Dakotas, and Chipmunks, will remain inactive until it is deemed safe to resume flying. The loss of Squadron Leader Long has garnered tributes from The Prince and Princess of Wales, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, reflecting the impact of his passing on the aviation community.

The commemorative flypast for Squadron Leader Long involved Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth flying in a ‘missing man’ formation in his honor. The flypast, which was shared on social media with the caption ‘Per ardua ad astra’ (through adversity to the stars – RAF motto), was a heartfelt tribute to his service and dedication to the Royal Air Force. Mark Long’s passion for flying and his commitment to inspiring future generations were evident in his interactions with aviation enthusiasts and children who admired his piloting skills and motivational talks. The tragic end to his dream of becoming a pilot serves as a reminder of the risks and sacrifices involved in aviation.

The decision to ground the BBMF aircraft and cancel their participation in the D-Day commemorations highlights the importance of prioritizing flight safety and investigating incidents thoroughly. The pause in flying activities for the BBMF demonstrates the RAF’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of its personnel and the public. The loss of Squadron Leader Mark Long has deeply impacted the aviation community and serves as a reminder of the risks involved in flying historic aircraft. His legacy as a skilled pilot and dedicated instructor will be remembered by those who had the privilege of knowing him.

In conclusion, the tragic crash involving Squadron Leader Mark Long and the subsequent grounding of the BBMF aircraft have had a significant impact on the aviation community. The decision to halt flying activities and cancel D-Day commemorations reflects the RAF’s dedication to ensuring flight safety and investigating incidents thoroughly. Squadron Leader Long’s legacy as a remarkable pilot and instructor will continue to inspire future generations and his memory will be cherished by all who knew him. The commemorative flypast and tributes in his honor serve as a poignant reminder of the risks and sacrifices involved in military aviation.

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