Red Arrows Pilot Peter Collins hanged himself after suffering from depression over semi-retirement
Peter Collins, 62, was one of Britain’s most experienced test pilots having joined the RAF in the mid-1970s and trained on their Sea Harrier FRS1 fighter.
During the Falklands War he flew Sea Harriers with the decorated 809NAS (Naval Air Squadron) on patrol from aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.
From 1986 to 1988 he was promoted to Squadron Leader as he took the highly coveted Red Arrows seat of ‘Red Two’, flying the famous red Hawk T1 in displays around the world.
An inquest heard Mr Collins, of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, later became a test pilot but in 2015 decided to semi-retire and started to suffer from depression.
The hearing was told last August 24, 2016, at the Holiday Inn in Chester, Cheshire, after a “depressive episode” he hanged himself.
Heartbroken widow Gudrun Collins told Warrington Coroner’s Court how her devoted husband had become increasingly “anxious” after semi-retiring and regretted his decision to ground himself.
She said: “He was anxious, thinking he had made the wrong decision. He was not coping with the changes.
Mr Collins was one of Britain's most experienced pilots having joined the RAF in the mid 1970s
“He made a major life decision and regretted what he did and was worried about the future.”
Mrs Collins said they had discussed what would happen if Mr Collins was unable to find work to support his family.
But she said they would have been able to “tighten their belts” as she worked as a health care professional and he was worrying too much.
Mrs Collins said there was no indication of what was to come when he left their home on August 21, 2016, to travel to Cheshire for work.
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She added: “He was going back to work to do a job he loved. His death was a total surprise for us.”
The hearing was told in August 2016 at a Holiday Inn in Chester
She told the inquest she last received a text from her husband on August 23 at 6.15pm.
A GP report read to the inquest from Dr Gemma Atkins said Mr Collins had seen a doctor complaining of sudden weight loss and anxiety.
He went through a battery of tests before putting him on some anti-anxiety medication.
Just three weeks before he died, his daughter had found him unresponsive at home with a suicide note and called an ambulance.
He told paramedics he had drunk two bottles of whisky.
Peter was found unresponsive at his home with a suicide note three works before his death
Richard Haughton, of Raytheon Systems Ltd, based in Hawarden Airport, Cheshire, said in 2015 his friend was working for him after his semi-retirement.
He showed up to work last August 22 and 23 but did not arrive for a 9am meeting on August 24.
Mr Haughton said Mr Collins seemed “normal” except he had lost some weight.
He said: “He was full of life, a real character.”
A post-mortem examination found Mr Collins had the equivalent of a couple of glasses of wine in his system and had died from hanging. He had left a suicide note.
Recording a conclusion of suicide, senior coroner for Cheshire Nicholas Rheinberg said Mr Collins died after a “depressive episode”.
Mr Rheinberg said: “Mr Collins was a successful man and had a long career.
“He made a decision to retire and become self-employed but it is clear he regretted that decision.”
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Tue, September 15, 2015
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Hawker Hurricane pilots of 501 Squadron wait for a call to scramble during the Battle of Britain