A FLIGHT lieutenant from RAF Odiham has been named as one of three people who died in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Thursday.
Fran Capps was killed in the avalanche in the Chalamain Gap area which happened at around 12.30pm on Valentine’s Day. The 32-year-old was found buried in the snow along with Squadron Leader Rimon Than, 33, and a student on a course at the Glenmore Lodge centre. The three climbers were all airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Flt Lt Capps was part of a group of off-duty RAF personnel on an expedition in the Cairngorms. A search operation included mountain rescue teams, search dogs, and two RAF rescue helicopters.
The Ministry of Defence said that Flt Lt Capps was originally from Dulverton in Somerset and was commissioned into the RAF in 2001 as a logistics officer and worked on a variety of RAF stations, most recently with the Chinook Force at RAF Odiham.
She had served on operational tours in Iraq, the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan and Qatar. Group Captain Dominic Toriati, the station commander at RAF Odiham, paid tribute to Flt Lt Capps, describing her as “an exceptionally dedicated Royal Air Force Officer and Logistician who was well known throughout the service for her remarkable commitment, her joie de vivre and her utter professionalism.”
He added: “Fran achieved success wherever she served most recently receiving a Chief of Joint Operations Commendation for her professional excellence, confidence and ‘can-do’ approach.”
Last year The Gazette reported how Flt Lt Capps was chosen to represent the RAF at the London Olympic medal ceremonies, where she raised the national flags during victory ceremonies at Wembley Arena for the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics event. She said at the time: “I feel hugely honoured and privileged to have been selected to represent RAF Odiham and the Royal Air Force in leading a ceremony team during the Olympic Games.”
Group Captain Toriati said she loved adventurous sport, adding: “She would have been in her element in the Cairngorms in winter. These characteristics were evident to all who met her at Royal Air Force Odiham. She was a popular and dynamic officer with huge potential for the future whose loss will be sorely felt.
“Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps will be missed by all and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this very sad time.”