arrowing escape for pilot

PUBLISHED: 17:05 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

A RED Arrows pilot was taken to hospital after a mid-air crash between two display planes during a training exercise in Crete.

A RED Arrows pilot was taken to hospital after a mid-air crash between two display planes during a training exercise in Crete.

Flight Lieutenant Mike Ling, from Biggin Hill, ejected from his Hawk aircraft following the collision over Hellenic Air Force base in Kastelli during a pre season exercise.

The other pilot, Flight Lieutenant Dave Motenegro, landed safely.

Both pilots were practising a manoeuvre when they collided on March 23, and Mr Ling, who ejected himself from the plane before it crash landed on the runway of the base, dislocated his arm and suffered minor abrasions.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said his condition was not life threatening, and an investigation into the cause of the crash would be carried out as soon as possible.

The spokesperson added: "Safety is paramount. The team will recommence training for the forthcoming season once preliminary inquiries into the accident have been completed to satisfaction.

"It is too early to speculate on the format and composition of the likely display routine.

"The investigation will determine the facts, and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the crash."

The team arrived on the Greek Island on March 21 for the first stage of Exercise Springhawk.

The Red Arrows was formed in 1965 and its pilots have completed more than 4,000 aerobatic displays in 53 countries.

They will also be at the Biggin Hill Air International Air Fair on June 26 and June 27.

Around 40 pilots apply each year to fly in the team. Nine of these are sent on a gruelling week-long competition in Cyprus to test their skills.

All applicants must have above average flying skills, a minimum of 1,500 hours in the cockpit and at least one frontline operational tour in fast jets.

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