Family pay tribute to RAF pilot killed in Spitfire crash

Tributes have been paid to an RAF pilot who died in a Spitfire crash.

Sqn Ldr Mark Long was killed when the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) plane he was flying crashed in a field in Lincolnshire on 25 May.

His family said: "Mark lived his life with an unwavering passion with laughter, love, and dedication."

According to the Ministry of Defence, he lived in Lincolnshire with his wife, two daughters and a dog, and he was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

His family said in a statement issued by the MoD: "His talent for flying was there for all to see, and his ability to connect to everyone he met was infectious.

"Mark will be cherished and deeply missed by us all."

Sqn Ldr Long graduated Initial Officer Training in 2003, the MoD said.

In 2012, he joined the Typhoon Force and was assigned to RAF Coningsby, later becoming a Typhoon display pilot as well as teaching student pilots how to operate the jet.

The MoD said that alongside his instructional duties, Sqn Ldr Long helped defend UK sovereign airspace by undertaking Quick Reaction Alert duties including in the UK and the Falkland Islands.

At the time of his death, he was in his fourth season with the BBMF.

Sqn Ldr Mark Sugden, commanding officer of the BBMF, said: "In life, we are occasionally privileged to meet incredible people like Mark.

"Mark touched the hearts of everyone that he met, always prioritising the needs of others before himself.

"The epitome of a military fighter pilot, he personified the very best of the Royal Air Force and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

"We were lucky to have him as part of the team and part of our BBMF family."

Gp Capt Robbie Lees, commander of the RAF's Display Air Wing, described Sqn Ldr Long as "a great friend, colleague, and a passionate, professional aviator".

He said an investigation into the cause of the "tragic event" was under way.

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