IT was a particularly poignant moment for those who watched the Red Arrows leave Bournemouth on Saturday.

And for the first time since the Arrows lost their much-loved colleague, team leader Ben Murphy has paid tribute to pilot Jon Egging.

In a letter to the Daily Echo and Lincolnshire Echo, he thanked the people of Bournemouth and Lincolnshire for their support since the tragic crash.

Here’s what he wrote...

• “It is with great sadness that the Red Arrows return home to RAF Scampton without our team mate Red 4, Flt Lt Jon Egging.

“The pain and shock of losing Jon is still very real and very raw, and all of our thoughts and prayers are with Jon’s wife Emma and with his family.

“Whilst we are feeling a very personal grief, the public response to Jon’s tragic death has been overwhelming and humbling and I would like to thank all those who have paid tribute to Jon by sending flowers, cards and letters and be assured that these have been of great comfort to Jon’s family and to us.

“In particular, I would like to thank the people of Bournemouth and Lincolnshire and, especially, the Dorset emergency services who have all shown great compassion and sensitivity.

“Jon, as a Red Arrows pilot, encapsulated everything that is the “best of British”; he was an exceptional pilot, a dedicated RAF officer who saw service for his country but, moreover, he was a selfless and compassionate friend who will be sorely missed.

“The fortitude, resilience and pride that Jon showed in life are exactly the qualities that define our Armed Forces and it is these that will enable us to get back on our feet and move on.

“For that reason, and in Jon’s memory, the Red Arrows will be displaying to the public again at the earliest possible opportunity.”