Pupils sky-high after Red Arrows tribute

LUCKY pupils were walking on air after being given their own tribute from renowned stunt pilots The Red Arrows.

The Royal Air Force’s elite aerobatic team flew over the skies of Peterlee on their way home from Sunday’s Great North Run.

After a special request from Peterlee woman Mary King, 69, the daredevil pilots flew in formation between Acre Rigg Junior School and Howletch Lane Primary School.

Mrs King is a governor at both of the schools and her son Glenn, 43, a former Howletch Primary School pupil, was previously a senior engineer with the Red Arrows team.

This was the fourth time the squad has performed a fly-past for the two schools.

It was one of the team’s first flights without pilot Jon Egging, who was killed when his aircraft crashed after an air show at Bournemouth.

Helen Adair, deputy headteacher at Howletch Lane Primary School, where around 450 pupils watched the spectacular display, said: “The children thought it was fantastic.

“We have had a long relationship with the Red Arrows because of the links with Mrs King.

“We told the children to stand and look very closely and they were very excited.

“Some were doing cartwheels waiting for them to come overhead.

“With some of the children having seen them on TV at the Great North Run it was amazing for them.

“It’s an honour and it was especially poignant this year with them having lost a pilot.

“To do something special, in such a state of flux, to make that special trip for us, was an honour and it was a lovely experience for the children.”

Theresa Armstrong is secretary of Acre Rigg Junior School, in Acre Rigg Road, where around 215 pupils formed the letter ‘A’ on the ground for the pilots to see.

She said: “The kids were over the moon.

“We took some photographs.

“We saw them go over and the children went onto the field and made the letter ‘A’ for Acre Rigg.

“Just a blink of an eye and you would have missed them, but it was a real honour for us.”

Glenn King now lives in Scampton, Lincolnshire, where the Red Arrows are based, with wife Karen, 40, and children, Paul, 16 and 13-year-old Bethany.

He spent more than 22 years with the RAF and is now a turbine engineer.