Red Arrow Pilot's Widow Inspires Air Cadets to Greater Heights
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By Flt Lt Robson - 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron
Air Cadets are flying high after the widow of Red Arrows’ pilot Jon Egging paid them a surprise visit.
Dr Emma Egging called in to 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC ahead of taking part in this year’s landmark Bupa Great North Run, which became the first race of its kind in the world to see the millionth person cross the finish line.
The 35 year old doctor of archaeology chatted to the teenagers about the inspirational work being carried out in her late husband’s name to motivate and inspire underachieving youngsters.
The Jon Egging Trust was set-up following the tragic death of the 33 year old Flight Lieutenant in August 2011 when his Hawk T1 jet crashed at the Bournemouth Air Festival as it was coming in to land at the end of a Red Arrows display.
Emma and Jon’s family decided the best way to keep his memory alive was to turn their sadness into a force for good by using Jon’s flying links to help turn troubled teenagers’ lives around by showing them how to reach their full potential.
The Jon Egging Trust does this through the aptly named Blue Skies Programme which takes children between the ages of 13 and 16 in education who are under-achieving and helps them gain skills and experiences linked to aviation.
The Trust works closely with the Red Arrows and is currently operating in areas with a strong RAF connection such as Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Dorset, North Wales and Yorkshire.
But the plan is to roll the programme out across the UK, including the North East.
Emma spoke to 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron’s cadets about the Trust’s life changing work, what Jon had been like and her ongoing association with the Red Arrows.
She said: “The Trust is a way of keeping Jon’s drive and zest for life alive and channelling that to help others.
“Jon was incredibly talented, not only as a pilot but as a teacher. He knew how to bring the best out in people; he had boundless energy and his background was such that when he was young he set himself a goal of being a pilot, which he achieved.
“He enjoyed using his position as a Red Arrow pilot and flying instructor to inspire others, especially young people who for whatever reason may have yet to discover what it is they are good at.”
Apart from promoting and encouraging a practical interest in aviation and the RAF, the Air Cadets Organisation – itself a registered charity – also works to improve the lives of young people aged 13 to 20 by developing a spirit of adventure alongside leadership and citizenship skills.
Emma added: “It has been wonderful to meet so many of 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron’s cadets, see what they are doing and hear about the many ways they volunteer to help out in their local community.
“I have been very impressed by their motivation and self-confidence and their interest in the Jon Egging Trust and their desire to help further the work it’s doing to move the lives of others their age on to greater things.”
The squadron’s Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Dan Laidler, said it had been a privilege to welcome Emma to 346.
“It has been a great opportunity for the cadets to meet with Emma and to hear about the inspiring work being carried out by the Jon Egging Trust to improve the lives of other young people.
“We would like to thank Emma for taking the time to visit us when she was still busy preparing for the Great North Run, and we look forward as a squadron to building an ongoing relationship with the Trust and supporting its vital work.
“The Air Cadets Organisation works with youngsters of all abilities and from all walks of life and we know the positive impact that taking part in activities such as flying, adventure training camps, overseas trips, competitive sports, drill and shooting, can have on them both now and into the future.”
For more information please visit the Squadron website