|Death: ||Nov. 8, 2011|
Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team
(The Red Arrows)
Flt Lt Cunningham, Red 5, was killed when he was ejected from his Hawk T1 aircraft while it was on the ground at RAF Scampton. He died from multiple injuries after the ejector seat activated and the canopy did not fully deploy. The incident is under investigation.
Aged 35, Flt Lt Cunningham, was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to the UK in 1986 at the age of nine. He qualified for his Private Pilot Licence at the age of 17 and also graduated with an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree at Nottingham Trent University. He joined the RAF in 2000 and was selected for Fast Jet Training. He was posted to the Tornado GR4 aircraft of 617 'The Dambusters' Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth for three years. During this time he completed several operational tours of Iraq. After completing exercises in America, Canada, Romania and France, Flt Lt Cunningham joined XV (R) Squadron as a Qualified Pilot and Tactics Instructor. He was posted to the Weapon Systems Officer Training Unit at 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming, before being selected to fly for the Red Arrows, in October 2010. In his first year, he flew in the Red 3 position and in early 2011 he transferred to Red 5. As the senior member of the 'front 5', he had the unofficial role of 'Uncle Enid' - a key position in mentoring and helping to train the new pilots to the team. Colleagues remembered the outstanding officer and aviator for his constant smile, energy and infectious joie de vivre.
Flt Lt Cunningham leaves behind his parents, Jim and Monika, and sister Nicolette, along with other relatives and many friends. His family said, "Sean was first and foremost a much-loved son and brother who will be dearly missed by all of his family, and his many good friends. Since his childhood Sean had dreamed of flying fast jets in the Royal Air Force; through his hard work and dedication he achieved that dream, and the pinnacle of his career was to fly in the Red Arrows. Sean loved his flying and we hope that his life will be an inspiration to all those who share his dreams. His fun-loving nature has never failed to put a smile on the faces of those who knew and loved him; this is how he will be remembered."
Funeral with full military honours was held on December 1, 2011 at Coventry Cathedral, followed by a private cremation.
Canley Garden Cemetery and Crematorium
Metropolitan Borough of Coventry
West Midlands, England
Plot: Cremation location
Created by: Milou
Record added: Nov 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80171054