Empty and sombre - Coningsby is a town in mourning after death of Spitfire pilot in crash


The town of Coningsby is in mourning after the tragic death of an RAF pilot over the weekend. Squadron Leader Mark Long was pronounced dead at the scene after the Second World War Spitfire plane he was flying crashed to the ground in Coningsby on Saturday, May 25.

Sqn Ldr Long was a Typhoon pilot at RAF Coningsby and, for the last four years, a pilot with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF). He has been described as "a great friend, colleague, and a passionate, professional aviator" who will be "sorely missed".

An RAF investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash is now underway and all BBMF flights have been paused while it is carried out. Coningsby residents and business owners have described a "sombre" feel in the town in the days following the tragic event.

Read more: RAF pauses Battle of Britain flights after death of Spitfire pilot

Pensioner Serv Coulber said: "You see the aircraft so often and you take it for granted. It was a big surprise. The RAF base is an integral part of the area.

"The vast majority that live here have some form of connection with the RAF so it affects everyone to a certain degree. It was really out of the ordinary and totally unexpected."

Resident Serv Coulber was saddened by the tragic event on Saturday, May 25
Resident Serv Coulber was saddened by the tragic event on Saturday, May 25 -Credit:Lincolnshire Live

Maxine Brown, owner of Flowers By Maxine in the town centre, said there had been a different atmosphere in the area since the incident. She said: "It's very sad. The village feels almost empty. You've just got to feel for the RAF and the families."

A resident, who wished to remain unnamed, said: "They were just shutting the road when I was on my way home and I heard a helicopter. I didn't know what it was until my wife told me at night. It's very sad for the people of Coningsby because it's such an RAF-focused place. Any death is terrible."

Another resident who wanted to remain anonymous added: "It's been deathly quiet. It just feels really sombre. Almost everyone is related or knows someone in the RAF or that works on the camp.

There is a sombre feel in the small town of Coningsby following the death of Spitfire pilot Mark Long
There is a sombre feel in the small town of Coningsby following the death of Spitfire pilot Mark Long -Credit:Lincolnshire Live

"It's a shock because it's such a rare event and an iconic aircraft. We've watched it go over hundreds of times and never thought anything like that would happen."

After the incident, RAF Coningsby Group Captain, Robbie Lees, said: "It is with great sorrow that I must confirm the death of Squadron Leader Mark Long. 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.

"A great friend, colleague, and a passionate, professional aviator he will be sorely missed by all that knew him. An investigation into the cause of this tragic event has now begun.

Squadron Leader Mark Long
Squadron Leader Mark Long -Credit:RAF

"The RAF will not be offering any comment on the accident until that investigation has concluded, and likewise, we ask others not to speculate. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the RAF personnel and our emergency services colleagues who responded so swiftly yesterday.

"Our thoughts remain with Mark's family and friends to whom we offer our deepest sympathies. We ask that their privacy be respected at this tragic and shocking time."