From Bournemouth Echo

THE pilot ruled out by illness from flying the De Havilland Sea Vixen at this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival is in a stable condition in hospital.

Lt Cmdr Matt Whitfield, 37, who lives near Shaftesbury, was admitted to Yeovil District Hospital earlier this week after suffering a stroke.

Commander Richard Seymour of RNAS Yeovilton, where Lt Cmdr Whitfield is stationed, said personnel at the base were wishing their colleague a swift recovery.

“He was taken ill last week but the good news is that he is recovering in hospital.

“The thoughts of everyone at the base are with him at the moment.

“I’m sure I can speak for Matt when I say he’ll be very disappointed not to be flying at Bournemouth this weekend,” said Cmdr Seymour.

A spokesman for Yeovil District Hospital said Lt Cdr Whitfield had been joined by his wife and was making a good recovery.

“We can confirm that Matt Whitfield has been admitted to Yeovil District Hospital.

“His condition is stable and he and his wife are looking forward to being able to go home,” the spokesman said.

Paul Kingsbury, the engineering director at Bournemouth Airport’s De Havilland Aviation, which owns the Sea Vixen, said that Lt Cdr Whitfield had not been “a happy bunny” at being unable to fly.

Speaking to the Daily Echo in May, Lt Cmdr Whitfield told the paper he was looking forward to flying the twin-engine supersonic bomber at this year’s air festival.

“It’s enormously rewarding and a phenomenal honour to be able to fly it.

“Physically, it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a delight – it’s very, very powerful,” Lt Cmdr Whitfield told the paper.

He took over duties in the Sea Vixen following the retirement of its former pilot, Brian Grant, after the inaugural Air Festival last year.