RAF Battle of Britain Flight to miss Trooping the Colour flypast after fatal Spitfire crash

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The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is to miss its traditional Trooping the Colour flypast after a fatal Spitfire crash earlier this year.

The flight of Second World War-vintage aeroplanes was grounded after one of its Spitfires crashed in May, killing Squadron Leader Mark Long.

Last year the RAF sent its Lancaster, two Hurricanes and a Spitfire as part of last year’s parade flypast, which travels up the Mall and over the top of Buckingham Palace.

An RAF spokesman said: “Due to the ongoing pause in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight after the tragic accident on 25 May 2024, regretfully, the BBMF will not be participating in the forthcoming flypast for His Majesty the King’s birthday on 15 June 2024.”

Other RAF aircraft will be taking part in the traditional Trooping the Colour flypast, including a Typhoon fighter jet painted in D-Day commemorative colours, the RAF said.

Sqn Ldr Long was killed in May after taking off in the flight’s Mark IX Spitfire for a routine air display and series of flypasts.

Senior RAF sources previously did not rule out the possibility of the BBMF being grounded during Trooping the Colour, which takes place this year on Saturday June 15.

The BBMF missed the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, having been grounded as a safety precaution following the death of Sqn Ldr Long.

Although modern RAF aircraft were able to fill in for some of the flight’s planned appearances, the Spitfire in which Sqn Ldr Long was killed was itself a D-Day veteran, having shot down a German Messerschmitt over France the day after the invasion.

Experts from the Defence Accident Investigation Branch are examining the wreckage, and RAF sources have said that an “expedited” formal investigation, known as a service inquiry, is taking place.

Sources familiar with BBMF engineering practices said the flight’s aircraft were some of the best maintained in the world, but highlighted the age and provenance of some spare parts.

Sqn Ldr Long’s family paid tribute to the father of two after the crash, saying he was “cherished and deeply missed by us all”.