Tributes to 'selfless' armed forces female parachuting instructor killed 'when her parachute failed' at Brize Norton

TRIBUTES have been paid to a "selfless" armed forces parachuting instructor who was killed during a training jump when her parachute reportedly failed to open.

Sergeant Rachel Fisk died in the tragic accident on Friday at RAF Weston on the Green, Oxfordshire, which is often used as a jump zone for RAF Brize Norton.

In a statement, Rachel's family said: "It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of our dear daughter, Rachel.

"She lived her life with joy and thoughtfulness for others and loved the career she had chosen. Rachel will be missed by so many."

Rachel, from Nuneaton, joined the Royal Air Force in 2011 as a physical training instructor, initially serving at RAF Wittering.

In 2016, she was selected as an instructor at the parachute training school at RAF Brize Norton, where she delivered parachute training for the Armed Forces.

Last year, she moved to RAF Weston on the Green to deliver joint service adventurous training.

Rachel's devastated colleagues described her as a "natural and conscientious instructor".

Flight Sergeant Dylan Bartle said: "Rachel brought personality to the team and was one of the most selfless individuals you could meet, constantly volunteering for tasks to allow her colleagues to spend more time with their families.

"Able to transfer her bubbly personality to her students, she consistently gave them the assurance and confidence required to complete that nervous task of jumping out of an aircraft."

Flight Lieutenant Nathan Ellis added: "Rachel brought life, enjoyment and fun to all – her love for the job was infectious and she created a bond with everyone she worked with.

"She was a natural and conscientious instructor and a role model for her students.

"Curious and diligent in her work, she was never afraid to tackle research or planning, seeking out information to make sense of any task. Whilst she was early into her parachuting career she had masses of potential."

It was very clear she would go far – but it is her personality, her humour and her huge heart that will be sorely missed by all of us.

Squadron Leader Helen Simpson said Rachel "never failed to impress with her skydiving ability".

She said: "It was very clear she would go far – but it is her personality, her humour and her huge heart that will be sorely missed by all of us at Weston on the Green."

According to unconfirmed reports, Rachel had jumped alongside tandem jumpers – a novice parachutist attached to an instructor.

Sources believe there may have been problem with Rachel's Automatic Activation Device (AA) which is meant to ensure a parachute opens once a jumper reaches a certain altitude.

The incident is understood to have occurred during an adventurous training assignment rather than a military exercise, and the jumpers had plunged from a light aircraft that was above 12,000ft.

The RAF confirmed a probe has been launched into the tragic death.

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