Family of RAF pilot Mark Long who was killed in a Spitfire crash during a Battle of Britain memorial say 'he lived his life with an unwavering passion' and will be 'deeply missed' in heartwarming tribute

A RAF pilot who died in a Spitfire crash 'lived his life with an unwavering passion' and 'will be cherished and deeply missed', his family has said in a heartwarming tribute.

Squadron Leader Mark Long, 43, died when his Spitfire crashed within a few minutes of takeoff during a Battle of Britain memorial flight near RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on Saturday.

According to the Ministry of Defence, he lived in Lincolnshire with his wife, two daughters and a dog.

Mr Long's family said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence: 'Mark lived his life with an unwavering passion with laughter, love, and dedication to his family.

'His talent for flying was there for all to see, and his ability to connect to everyone he met was infectious. Mark will be cherished and deeply missed by us all.'

Squadron Leader Mark Long, (pictured) died when his Spitfire crashed within a few minutes of takeoff during a Battle of Britain memorial flight near RAF Coningsby

Squadron Leader Mark Long, (pictured) died when his Spitfire crashed within a few minutes of takeoff during a Battle of Britain memorial flight near RAF Coningsby

Tributes left for Mark Long who was tragically killed in a Battle of Britain memorial flight

Tributes left for Mark Long who was tragically killed in a Battle of Britain memorial flight

The Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth flew in 'missing man' formation (pictured) to remember their colleague

The Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth flew in 'missing man' formation (pictured) to remember their colleague

Sqn Ldr Mark Long pictured reading a map on an RAF airplane

Sqn Ldr Mark Long pictured reading a map on an RAF airplane

Tributes to Mr Long have also flooded in from The Prince and Princess of Wales, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

And on Tuesday Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth flew in 'missing man' formation to remember their former colleague.

At the time of his death, Mr Long was in his fourth season with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Officer Commanding Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Squadron Leader Mark Sugden, said: 'In life, we are occasionally privileged to meet incredible people like Mark.

'Mark touched the hearts of everyone that he met, always prioritising the needs of others before himself.

'The epitome of a military fighter pilot, he personified the very best of the Royal Air Force and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

'We were lucky to have him as part of the team and part of our BBMF family.

Squadron Leader Mark Long had flown Spitfires for four years and was due to take over the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 2025

Squadron Leader Mark Long had flown Spitfires for four years and was due to take over the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 2025

Mark Long flying the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire MK356

Mark Long flying the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire MK356

The location where the Spitfire crashed in a field on on Langrick Road at RAF Coningsby

The location where the Spitfire crashed in a field on on Langrick Road at RAF Coningsby

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The scene where the pilot died in a crash during a Battle of Britain event near RAF Coningsby

The scene where the pilot died in a crash during a Battle of Britain event near RAF Coningsby

Squadron Leader Mark Long was killed when his World War Two-era fighter crashed to the ground within a few minutes of takeoff from RAF Coningsby

Squadron Leader Mark Long was killed when his World War Two-era fighter crashed to the ground within a few minutes of takeoff from RAF Coningsby

'Always a vision of calm, Mark faced life's obstacles with a wry smile, a knowing nod and a pint of tea.

'Above all, he was a devoted husband and a proud father.

'Whilst words alone cannot adequately convey our loss, he will remain forever 'the best boss that BBMF never had'.'

Mr Long was born in Bury St Edmunds and graduated Initial Officer Training in 2003.

He was then sent to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to fly the Tucano aircraft before gaining his 'wings' in 2003.

His Advanced Flying Training was on the Hawk and he was selected to take on the role of an instructor.

Mr Long later converted to the Harrier GR7/9 and was posted to RAF Cottesmore, Rutland.

In 2012, Mr Long joined the Typhoon Force and was assigned to RAF Coningsby.

In 2016, he was the Typhoon Display Pilot and his primary role was to teach student pilots how to operate the jet.

The MoD said that alongside his instructional duties, Mr Long also helped defend UK sovereign airspace by undertaking Quick Reaction Alert duties in the UK, Falkland Islands and while on Baltic Air Policing Operations in Lithuania.

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