Last week I was deeply saddened by the news that Corporal Jonathan Bayliss, of the Red Arrows, who was born in Dartford and grew up in Hartley, died when his aircraft crashed at RAF Valley in Wales.
Since his untimely death, tributes have been pouring in from people around the country offering their sympathy to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Having spoken with members of Corporal Bayliss’ family, they are devastated by this tragedy yet extremely proud of the contribution he made to the RAF and in particular to the Red Arrows.
Having studied Engineering Management at university, Corporal Bayliss joined the RAF in 2001 and in 2016, he joined the Red Arrows team. He was a Mechanical Engineer and supported numerous successful tours and last year he was a leader of the Red Arrows’ dye team, helping to replenish the jets’ famous smoke systems wherever they landed.
Describing Corporal Bayliss, his close colleague Sergeant Will Allen said ‘Jon had a big a presence on the Squadron and with his wide beaming smile, and dry humour, could lighten up any dull moment or lift spirits when needed.’ He said that Jon was proud to have been chosen to join the Circus team for 2018 and, in being one of the small group of engineers whose job it was to fly in a Red Arrows jet, he had fulfilled a schoolboy dream.
The Red Arrows are an iconic British institution, whom the public rightly have a deep affection for. We all feel a sense of pride when we watch them fly at so many State occasions and the flying skills involved are second to none. Like so many people, I have watched them display their skills when flying over London and I have often felt they demonstrate the very best of the RAF.
As the MP for Dartford, I am very proud that someone who grew up in our area was able to follow their dream and become part of one of the most prestigious aerobatic display teams in the world.