A Suffolk-born Royal Air Force Pilot who died in a Spitfire memorial flight “will be cherished and deeply missed”, his family said.

Squadron Leader Mark Long, born in Bury St Edmunds, died in the crash near RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on Saturday.

Although being born and raised in Suffolk, he moved to Lincolnshire with his wife, two daughters and 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.”

For his training he was sent out of Suffolk to York, where he trained at RAF Linton-on-Ouse to fly the Tucano before gaining his 'wings' in 2003.

The MoD said that alongside his instructional duties, Mr Long also helped defend UK sovereign airspace by in the UK, and Falkland Islands and in Lithuania.

East Anglian Daily Times: RAF Coningsby is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial FlightRAF Coningsby is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Image: Alamy/ PA)

Officer Commanding the 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.

“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’.”