Goodwood aerodrome echoed once again to the rousing sound of a Merlin V12 in August when a war veteran Spitfire took off to begin a round-the-world flight, the longest ever attempted by the legendary WWII fighter. David Coulthard was among 400 guests watching
Pilots Matt Jones and Steve Brooks of the Boultbee Flight Academy begin their circumnavigation, which aims to visit 30 countries. After 27,000 miles via Iceland and Canada, through the USA to Russia and back across south-east Asia and Europe, the aircraft will touch down again at Goodwood in December.
“The polished, bare metal Silver Spitfire flew 51 sorties during WWII”
Finished in non-military polished bare metal, the ‘Silver Spitfire’ is a 1943 MkIX, which flew 51 ‘sorties’ in WWII, flown by pilots from Australia, Canada, Norway and Trinidad as well as the UK. Preparation for the adventure involved a complete strip-down and fitting long-range tanks, but the famous aircraft is otherwise original barring modern radio and iPad for navigation.
Planning the epic trip took two and a half years, said Jones, adding that the team had to arrange for caches of special fuel in more remote places. With an accompanying support crew and spares in a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, the two pilots aim to make some 100 stops before their return to the Sussex airfield, where the Spitfire was based in 1945.
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