Chichester, United Kingdom: Two British aviators take off on Monday on a first-ever attempt to fly a Spitfire around the world, proclaiming the iconic fighter plane as a symbol of freedom. The restored plane fought in World War II but has been de-militarised, stripped of its guns and paintwork to reveal the shining, silvery metal underneath. “It’s the most majestic machine,” pilot Steve Brooks said.
“We’re hoping to reacquaint people with the beauty and the aesthetic of the Spitfire.” The 76-year-old plane is due to take off from Goodwood Aerodr-ome in England for a four-month, 43,500-kilometre (27,000-mile) adventure westwards around the globe.
Taking turns, Brooks, 58, and Matt Jones, 45, who run a flight academy, will pilot the Silver Spitfire to around 30 countries and soar over some of the world’s most cherished landmarks.
Agile, short-range interceptors, Spitfires were crucial in the 1940 Battle of Britain as the UK fought off the threat of an invasion by Nazi Germany.
A design classic with elliptical wings, the outline of a Spitfire is instantly recognisable. “The Spitfire stands for freedom of humanity,” Brooks said.
Of around 20,000 built, fewer than 250 survive, with only 50 or so of those still airworthy. They rarely fly and are mostly based in Britain.
The weather was looking grim but the clouds lifted in time for take-off, meaning the plane glinted in the sun as it swooped and twisted through the air. The mission hopes to honour those who designed, built, and flew the Spitfire and inspire those who see it to cherish their freedoms.
The silver plane will set off from Goodwood outside Chichester, near England’s south coast and head north for Scotland. It will then cross the Atlantic Ocean.
The sponsor-funded expedition will then cross North America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, in around 90 legs....