1st female Red Arrows pilot quits

Red Arrow pilot Kirsty Stewart. Credit: ITV Calendar

Britain's first female Red Arrows pilot is to move to a ground role after two of her flying colleagues were killed in separate tragedies.

Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Stewart, 33, is to be reassigned after the "tragic events" of 2011 had an "adverse effect" on her, a defence source said.

In August, Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, died in an air show crash near Bournemouth Airport in Dorset.

Three months later, Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was killed after being ejected

from his Hawk T1 while on the ground at the Red Arrows' base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Flt Lt Sean Cunningham who died in November 2011 Credit: Ministry of Defence

Flt Lt Stewart, who flew as Red 9, will not fly for a period yet to be agreed by RAF bosses - but it could be up to six months. She will be posted to another role within the RAF.

The 33-year-old made history in 2009 when she became the first woman in the Red Arrows' aerobatic display team. Her reposting means the team will have seven jets rather than the usual nine for aerobatic displays this year, although nine will be still used in official flypasts.