Herald Opinion: All share in the sorrow of this terrible tragedy

THE DEATH of Red Arrow Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging at the Bournemouth Air Festival has, unsurprisingly, left many people in Eastbourne feeling shocked and upset.

The town’s mayor, councillor Carolyn Heaps, is absolutely right when she says Eastbourne residents have built up a real affinity for these amazing pilots and their superb displays.

Many others are also shocked because they chatted with Flight Lieutenant Egging during Airbourne 2011.

The Red Arrows have an impressive safety record and have been involved in only seven other crashes since they were founded in 1964. Before being accepted, the pilots must complete one or more operational tours on a fast jet or have accumulated at least 1,500 flying hours.

The cause of the accident isn’t yet known and an investigation has been launched.

Even with the best pilots in the world and with the most stringent safety precautions, it’s a sad fact that accidents like this will inevitably occur with these extremely hi-tech and high-powered aircraft.

Few Airbourne fans will need reminding of the tragedy in 2000 when a former RAF pilot died during the airshow. Fortunately, accidents like this are rare and don’t deter the millions of people across the globe who enjoy events such as the Bournemouth Air Festival and Airbourne. But all will share in the sorrow of this terrible tragedy.

..........................................

IT HASN’T been the best of summer’s weather but great news to hear that Eastbourne is still putting many in the shade.

A survey of coastal resorts shows our town to be the second fastest growing resort in the country. The fact is that the traditional seaside holiday is far from finished. Fish and chip suppers and a stroll on the pier are still in vogue, alongside a growth in boutique hotels. Good news on both fronts.

Staycationers - as they are now fashionably known - are a big driver of the increased business, shunning overseas travel in favour of holidays at home.

The likes of Airbourne and international tennis are the icing on the cake but we shouldn’t underestimate the value of week-in, week-out coach visitors, nor the growing influx of short-stay language students.

Eastbourne can’t survive on tourism alone but in such troubled economic times, we need to squeeze every pound we can out of what is proving to be a resilient business. There’s a lot of life left yet in the Great British Holiday.