Image: Red Arrow pilot J
Mod Crown Copyright  /  AP
Flight Lt. Jon Egging died Saturday when his plane crashed during an air show near Bournemouth Airport.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/20/2011 2:35:24 PM ET 2011-08-20T18:35:24

A plane belonging to the British military's Red Arrows aerobatic display team crashed Saturday while taking part in an air show in southern England, killing the pilot.  

The Ministry of Defense said witnesses saw the plane flying low before smashing into a field and coming to a standstill with its nose in the River Stour.

The BBC and Sky News said the Royal Air Force jet came down near Bournemouth, where an air show is being held Saturday.

Witnesses said nine planes took off from Bournemouth Airport to perform a display, but only eight landed.

"I heard a rushing sound and I saw a plane about 15 meters (50 feet) above the ground racing across the fields," local resident Shaun Spencer-Perkins told the BBC. "It impacted and bounced across the field."

Shaun Spencer Perkins, manager of Poole Stadium, told the Bournemouth Echo he was on a country walk with his family when he heard a "whoosh" sound behind him me and saw a jet flying just feet above the ground.

“We’d seen one come over quite low earlier on, as part of the show, but it was obvious this one was crashing," he told the newspaper.

“I knew it, I shouted to the family. It came, went passed us across the field, crashed into the riverbank and burst into hundreds of pieces."

The dead RAF pilot was identified by the Ministry of Defense as 33-year-old flight lieutenant Jon Egging.

The Red Arrows are famous for their airborne stunts, multicolored vapor trails, dramatic flypasts and trademark diamond formation.

Formed in 1965, the Arrows have flown more than 4,000 displays in 53 countries. Their red single-engine jet trainers are a familiar sight at air shows and military events.

The nine-pilot stunt team last had an accident in March 2010, when two jets crashed in training in Crete. Neither pilot was seriously injured in that incident.

The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this story.

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