** Civilian Aircraft Registration G-RORI. This particular jet trainer aircraft was built in 1963 - although in 2015, like all aircraft, very little of the original build remains, as parts are constantly swapped out and replaced over the years.
Folland Gnats have been around since 1955, a British swept wing subsonic jet trainer, sometimes 'milspec' specified as a 'light jet fighter'. The Folland Gnat XR 538 pictured above, entered service with the RAF later in 1963 and was based at RAF Valley.
XR 583 was used as a trainer jet with RAF No4 Flying Training School until 1979. Some 16 years of instructional training service with the RAF. G-RORI was painted by the Heritage Aircraft Trust in the traditional red design of No4 Flying Training School to pay tribute to the many thousands of pilots who had sat behind its controls, and also the ground teams who had also qualified servicing the jet aircraft.
As far as we can tell, this particular aircraft specifically XR 583 (G-RORI) was never intended to be part of the Yellow Jackets/Red Arrow display teams, just a very reliable fast jet trainer.
However for the sake of clarity other Gnats ( look for XR prefix) XM693, XM698, XM705, XM708
XP514, XP531, XP535, XP539
XR540, XR545, XR572, XR955, XR977, XR981, XR986, XR987, XR991, XR992, XR993, XR994, XR995, XR996
XS101, XS107, XS111 were all used for display.
The pilot Kevin Whyman who tragically lost his life earlier today, worked in the City, was fully and very professionally trained and qualified by the former owners of the jet. It is now confirmed that he completed a Flying Scholarship with the RAF aged 18, and then joined the RAF in 1998.
Born in Chester, he underwent fast jet training on the Tucano and Hawk aircraft before leaving the RAF in 2001, to take up a career in Investment Banking. Kevin Whyman completed his civilian flying licenses after leaving the RAF.
Some four years after leaving the RAF; Kevin Whyman then started flying the Folland Gnat, 10 years ago in 2005, and founded the Gnat Display Team with colleagues in 2007.
An Air Accident Investigation enquiry has already been opened.
Our condolences go out to his family and his wider flying family who will also be sharing this tragic loss. JB
SATURDAY 18:00hrs The pilot is now named as Kevin Whyman. Investigation teams are already on site.
The Heritage Aircraft Trust, operator of the Gnat Display Team, said he will be "greatly missed". He leaves a wife and daughter.
Saturday 17:00 hrs 1st August 2015:The Pilot of the Folland Gnat Jet Aircraft involved in the incident this afternoon has died. Host Chris Evans who founded the event for Children-in-Need , clearly upset on BBC News - confirmed the Car Event would continue over the weekend. as 10,000 children were already at the park, over a mile from the Wooded crash site, The aircraft crashed in a wooded area away from the show site. Investigation teams are already on site.
The aircraft involved in the incident is part of the Gnat Display Team based at North Weald Airfield, and part of the Heritage Aircraft Trust. Important to stress, not part of the RAF or the Red Arrows display team
The display team is made up of Folland Gnat aircraft, which first entered service in 1955 as a jet trainer but XR583 was not used by the RAF for displays.
A British swept wing subsonic jet trainer and can also be specified as a 'light jet fighter'. Air Ambulance Helicopter on station, currently 7 fire appliances and crews attending more on the way to a wooded area. Pilot ejected. No official release on casualties.
Julian Bray writes: Reports are coming in that an air acrobatic Gnat display jet plane has crashed - during a charity festival in Cheshire.
The Carfest2015 event, is hosted by DJ and new BBC Top Gear presenter Chris Evans and being held today at Oulton Park near Little Budworth in Cheshire.
A Gnat display jet plane owned by a private firm performing a low level spiralling 'dog fight' manoeuvre with a second Gnat plane is said to be involved.
Social media pictures show billowing smoke rising from a Coach Road or field close to a wooded area.
One spectator tweeted: "Literally flew over my head and blew up on a ball of flames in a field.”
Twitter user JRandall tweeted: “Think I’ve just witnessed a plane crash? Crowd looks glum, confused, concerned. Everyone on their phones.”
Emma McEvoy added on Twitter: “OMG plane crashed right in front of our eyes at Carfest hope the pilot ejected!! Whole crowd went silent!”
The festival, includes a car show and display at the nearby racetrack, live music, arena entertainment, and fun events.
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