Red Arrows’ first female pilot to move to ground-based role

Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart, the first Red Arrows female pilot, is to move to a ground-based role following the separate deaths of two of her colleagues last year.

The 33-year-old joined the Red Arrows in 2010 as Red 9, and the Ministry of Defence said the move was not due to disciplinary issues.

She is to be reassigned after the “tragic events” of 2011 had an “adverse effect” on her, according to a report in The Sun.

“Not many people outside of the Red Arrows will understand the pressure and busy schedule that the team endure through a normal season.

“These factors have been exacerbated by the tragic events of 2011,” a defence source told the Press Association.

“This has had an adverse effect on Kirsty and has resulted in the Royal Air Force deciding that it would be more appropriate for the individual and the service if Kirsty is reassigned.”

In August lat year, Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging (33) died in an air show crash near Bournemouth and three months later, Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham (35) was killed after being ejected from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at RAF Scampton.

An MOD spokesperson said: “The Red Arrows will conduct aerobatic displays with seven aircraft rather than the usual nine in 2012 due to the unavoidable posting of one of their pilots.”

The Red Arrows will return to a full aerobatic formation of nine aircraft in 2013. Meanwhile, the team will still carry out official flypasts with nine aircraft.

Photo: U.S. Air Force/Maj. Gabe Johnson | Related Reports: BBC Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire Echo