Battle of Britain planes grounded after pilot killed in Spitfire crash

The RAF has temporarily grounded the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight following the death of a pilot in a crash.

Sqn Ldr Mark Long was killed when the Spitfire he was flying crashed in a field in Lincolnshire.

Emergency crews were called to the site near RAF Coningsby shortly before 13:20 BST on Saturday.

The RAF said it had taken the decision to ground the aircraft while investigations take place.

A spokesperson said: "Following the tragic accident at RAF Coningsby, and while the formal investigation is ongoing, the RAF has instigated a temporary pause in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF)."

In a statement, the RAF said Sqn Ldr Long was "a great friend, colleague and a passionate, professional aviator".

The Prince and Princess of Wales were among those who earlier paid tribute to the pilot.

They said they were "incredibly sad" to learn of the death, adding their thoughts were with the pilot's family, the BBMF and the wider RAF.

Gp Capt Robbie Lees, commander of the RAF's Display Air Wing, said: "Mark was a Typhoon pilot here at RAF Coningsby and for the last four years he has been a pilot with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight."

In a post on Facebook, officials said the BBMF visitor centre would also remain closed until further notice.

The BBMF planes, which include Spitfires, Hurricanes and a Lancaster bomber, are a popular sight at summer shows.

A flypast had been due to take place at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, near Spilsby, on Monday.

A spokesperson for the heritage centre said a book of condolence for Sqn Ldr Long had been placed in the chapel for visitors to sign, and they could spend a few quiet moments of reflection there. Visitors and staff at the centre held a minute's silence for the pilot.

The flight had also been due to take part in a national commemorative event in Portsmouth on 5 June to mark 80 years since D-Day.

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