Flt Lt Sean Cunningham – Red Arrows

SimonGeneral4 Comments

I’ve been thinking through this post since I heard the news yesterday about the tragic accident at RAF Scampton – where Flt Lt Sean Cunningham was killed yesterday in an accident.

Sean, who most recently flew as Red 5 in the Red Arrows, started his RAF flying career at the East Midlands University Air Squadron (EMUAS) – he joined the squadron the same day that I did in 1996. I joined then because I was interested in finding out more about flying and possibly a career in the RAF.

By that stage Sean, who was among the most focussed and single-minded in our intake, had already completed his private pilot licence (PPL) training. While the rest of us were still grappling with the basics of flying training, Sean was always happy to help us out and share his experiences. I have some very happy memories of flying training as well as the partying side of my time on the squadron. I remember a particularly excellent summer spent on camp at RAF Kinloss in Scotland:

While most of my contemporaries from the squadron went on to careers in all walks of life, Sean and a handful of the most talented pilots went on to join the RAF, complete their flying training and go on to fly operational tours in combat zones all over the world.

When Sean was selected for the Red Arrows it made me think back to those early days at EMUAS and how he stood out as an immensely talented and thoroughly nice chap. When the Red Arrows flew over our campsite in the New Forest this summer I was truly proud to tell my two boys about Sean and what it took to be a Red Arrows pilot.

My thoughts are with Sean’s family, friends and the rest of the Red Arrows team at what must be an unimaginably difficult time for them.

We should be very proud of people like Sean and many others like him in our armed forces. They are people that are willing to give everything to pursue their dreams and serve our country.

There is an online book of condolence run by the RAF that you can sign here. A Facebook page for Sean is here.

Thanks Sean. It was an honour and we have lost a true gentleman.

4 Comments on “Flt Lt Sean Cunningham – Red Arrows”

  1. Natalie Jackson

    What a lovely summary of Sean Simon, it was a touching tribute. I knew Sean for 16 years right back from when he started EMUAS. It was in the ‘anti’ room at Newton I first met him, and have stayed friends ever since going to balls together up in Lossie and nights out in York.
    He was a person that was always on the go both in work and play with his pearly white smile. It was such a proud moment when he told me he’d been accepted into the Red Arrows and achieved that final goal of his flying career. I will dearly miss him and his cheeky ways. May he RIP forever. XXX

  2. Andy Cribb

    Great post Simon. Those EMUAS days seem both a long time ago, but also a lot more recent as I’ve been thinking back to Sean after hearing the terrible news. He was a great guy who’d reached the pinnacle of his chosen career.

  3. Phillip Hynes

    Hi Simon. Sean has been a dear friend of mine since the age of 9 years old when he came over from South Africa. We lived a stone throw away from each other and pretty much spent our whole childhood lives growing up as great mates. Sean had a smile that would light up a room and was very well thought of by all his close school mates in Binley, Coventry.

    From a young age Sean was always going to do something very special as he was such a clever and talented lad. I remember him taking his PPL lessons at the Coventry flying school in Baginton and also him coming round mine on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning to go up with him in a Cessna, but I bricked it and blamed a hangover 🙂

    Sean lived a dream and I respect him for that and so proud of his acheivments, like all his friends and family. It was an honour to have been a close friend to Sean and I and his all his Binley friends will make sure his legacy continues and he is never forgotton.

    Sean, you are and will always be an embassador for Coventry and glad I knew you mate and I for one will dearly miss you…and my mum will miss that laugh and smile.

    ps. Thanks for letting me be your navigator on the the days of the Amiga playing Stealth Fighter…. You never would let me let the side winders off when we were being shot at 🙂

    RIP Sean. Never forgotton. Love all your Langton Close mates. xx

  4. Dan Banks

    Hey Simon.

    I’m in that photo somewhere as well, joined EMUAS same day as you. Sobering thought, we were all invulnerable in those days as I recall.

    RIP Sean.

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