Prime Minister John Key has expressed his deep sympathy to the family, fellow Air Force personnel and friends of the Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot who tragically died this morning.
"The loss of one of our pilots today, while flying near Ohakea Air Base, is a tragedy. My thoughts go out to the pilot's family, and to the wider Defence Force community.
"The pilot, a member of the Red Checkers display team, was highly experienced and was also a flying instructor. This morning, he was undertaking a solo run in a CT-4 Trainer as part of practice for an aerial display.
"It is particularly saddening to learn a pilot died while practising aerial display manoeuvres - a spectacle which entertains thousands of New Zealanders over the summer months. The Red Checkers are our Air Force's only aerobatic team and their reputation and skills are first-class.
"The Royal New Zealand Air Force's safety record is excellent - but there are always dangers when flying and, regrettably, they can claim the lives of even the very best of our pilots.
"Today's unhappy events are a reminder to all New Zealanders that the members of our defence force regularly put their lives at risk, whether they are at home or serving our country overseas."