Ministry of Defence spokesman, Air Commodore Terry Jones, paid tribute to Flt. Lt. Cunningham after the conclusion of the inquest into his tragic death at RAF Scampton in November 2011.
Air Commodore Jones, director of flying training, said: “The tragic loss of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham is still keenly felt by the RAF, Red Arrows, and all of Sean’s former colleagues.
“Our thoughts have always been and continue to be with his mother and father Monika and Jim and sister Nicolette and his extended family and friends. They remain in our thoughts and prayers always.
“We are grateful to the coroner for his thorough examination of the facts and to the preceding thorough inquiry conducted by the Military Aviation Authority. There have been a number of lessons for us and other to absorb and correct, and we have made and will continue to make every effort to ensure that such a tragic accident cannot occur again. The Red Arrows in particular will be stronger, safer and better team as a result.
“Sean had an enthusiasm for flying and life that endeared him to all. He was enjoying his second year with the Red Arrows as Red 5 and had become a principal mentor for the new pilots.
“Sean’s professionalism, flying skill, constant smile and boundless energy earned him the respect and admiration of all.
“His tragic accident has been a shattering blow to everyone on the Team in particular. Now that the inquest into this tragic event has concluded, it is time to reflect on what a wonderful man and pilot Sean was; we were extremely privileged to have known him and to have had him within our ranks.”
Air Commodore Terry Jones speaking after the inquest into the death of Flt. Lt. Cunningham.