Battle of Britain Memorial flights grounded for D-Day 80th anniversary after Spitfire crash

Squadron Leader Mark Long was killed when the Spitfire he was flying crashed (MoD/PA) (PA Media)
Squadron Leader Mark Long was killed when the Spitfire he was flying crashed (MoD/PA) (PA Media)

Battle of Britain Memorial Flights will not take place during the forthcoming 80thcommemoration of D-Day following the crash of an RAF Spitfire last week.

The crash, in which the pilot Squadron Leader Mark Long was killed, is being investigated by the Defence Air Investigation Branch (DAIB) and it has been decided that it would be too risky to carry out further flights before what went wrong is ascertained.

The decision on the D-Day ceremony was made by the Chief of Air Staff and senior officers.The aircraft wreckage has been removed from the crash site at RAF Conningsby to allow for detailed investigation and Director General of the Defence Safety Authority is in the process of initiating an independent Service Inquiry to determine the cause of the accident.

Twelve aircraft in total in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) were due to take part in the commemoration consisting, before the crash, of six Spitfire, two Hurricane, one Dakota, two Chipmunk, and one Lancaster.

The Ministry of Defence said “ At this stage, the cause of the incident remains unknown and therefore, after extensive consultation between the Chief of the Air Staff and relevant senior RAF officers, it has been decided to continue the pause in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).

“As always, flight safety remains the RAF’s primary concern, therefore, BBMF flying will only resume when it is safe and appropriate to do so. As a result, regretfully, BBMF aircraft are not expected to be able to participate in the forthcoming D-Day 80 Commemorations over 5-6 June 2024.”

Squadron Leader Long, from Suffolk, lived in Lincolnshire with his wife, two daughters. His family said in a statement “ “Mark lived his life with an unwavering passion with laughter, love and dedication. 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.”