Battle of Britain display ends in tragedy as RAF pilot dies in Spitfire crash

RAF Coningsby is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
-Credit: (Image: Alamy/PA)

A Battle of Britain display has ended in tragedy after an RAF pilot died in a Spitfire crash.

The incident happened on Saturday afternoon in a field near RAF Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, the Ministry of Defence said this evening. Emergency services rushed to the Battle of Britain event following reports of an aircraft crashing in a field just before 1.20pm.

Authorities said only a single-occupant aircraft was thought to be involved. The Mirror reports that a rescue helicopter landed at the airfield after flying from Humberside.

But late in the afternoon, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed that a pilot tragically died in the accident. The MoD said the pilot's family has been informed.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "It is with great sadness that we must confirm the death of an RAF pilot in a tragic accident near RAF Coningsby today. The pilot's family have been informed and we ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time."

Sir Keir Starmer said he was "deeply saddened" by news from Lincolnshire that a pilot died after a Spitfire crashed in a field. The Labour leader said in a post on X: "Deeply saddened by news from Lincolnshire. Thank you to the emergency services for their response. My thoughts are with the pilot's family at this awful time."

In a statement, Lincolnshire Police said: "Emergency services are in attendance following reports of an aircraft crashing in a field just before 1.20pm. It is believed to be a single occupant aircraft and nobody else is thought to have been involved. Road closures are in place in the areas of Dogdyke Road and Sandy Bank. Motorists are asked to avoid the area and seek alternative routes."

RAF Coningsby is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Stations which provides protection for the UK airspace. It is home to two frontline, combat-ready squadrons and is the training station for Typhoon pilots. According to Gloucestershire Live, the spitfire involved was a Supermarine Spitfire aircraft.

The model was previously used both before and after World War II. It was designed by R. J. Mitchell and was best known for its role in the Battle of Britain and for its unique elliptical wings, which offered the combination of speed, maneuverability, and firepower. It has been reported that there are around 60 Spitfires still airworthy around the world.

These aircraft are often seen at airshows and are preserved by museums and private collectors. In addition to the airworthy Spitfires, many more are preserved in museums and private collections as static displays, with the total number of surviving Spitfires (airworthy and non-airworthy) being around 240.