Red Checkers grounded after latest accident

The Air Force's Red Checkers aerobatics team will be grounded for the rest of the season after a training accident this morning - the second in as many months, following a fatal crash in January.

A Red Checkers display aircraft suffered minor damage when it touched another aircraft during training today. It landed safely about 9.30am.

The incident came less than two months since Squadron Leader Nick Cree died when his aircraft crashed during training on January 14 near Bulls.

Air force training group commander Group Captain Stephen Howard said there were always risks when planes flew in close proximity.

"We are continually focussed on making our flying operations as safe as possible," he said.

"How this incident happened is now being investigated as a matter of course and the prudent decision is not to fly the team again this season. We apologise to all of those who were looking forward to see the Red Checkers display this year."

The Red Checkers last month pulled out of a display at Napier, but did not given reasons.

The team had been heartened by the response of the New Zealand public since Sqd Ldr Cree's death, and was grateful for their support, Gp Capt Howard said.

- NZPA

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