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‘Majestic’ WWII Spitfire takes off on round-the-world flight

Updated August 06, 2019

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CHICHESTER (Britain): British aviator Matt Jones takes off in a restored World War II Silver Spitfire plane for a round-the-world flight attempt on Monday.—AFP
CHICHESTER (Britain): British aviator Matt Jones takes off in a restored World War II Silver Spitfire plane for a round-the-world flight attempt on Monday.—AFP

CHICHESTER: An original Spitfire plane took off from Britain on Monday on an unprecedented attempt to fly the iconic World War II fighter around the globe.

The gleaming silver aircraft set off from Goodwood Aerodrome outside Chichester near the south coast of England for the first leg of the epic four-month journey.

The restored 76-year-old fighter served in World War II but has been de-militarised, stripped of its guns and paintwork, revealing the shining, silvery aluminium underneath.

The Silver Spitfire was heading for Lossiemouth in Scotland on the first stage of its attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean via the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and the wilds of remote northern Canada.

The single-seater plane will visit around 30 countries and soar over some of the world’s most cherished landmarks.

British aviators Matt Jones and Steve Brooks are taking turns at the controls for some 90-odd legs on its 43,500-kilometre (27,000-mile) adventure westwards around the globe -- the first time a Spitfire will ever have circumnavigated the planet.

“I’m nervous and beginning to get excited,” Jones said, standing beside the plane, shortly before take-off.

“We’re going to see so many people and so many countries. I hope it’s successful and we get back. We want to show this plane off to the world.” Jones, 45, flew the first leg, with Brooks, 58, following in the support plane.

In the hangar, Brooks warmed up for the expedition with a bacon sandwich and a coffee in a British flag mug. “Bacon sarnie. Absolutely essential,” he said.

“We’ve been training for this for so long. I can’t wait to go.

“It’s all about sharing the greatest aeroplane ever built. It’s about inspiring the next generation. Life is tough and the Spitfire seems to symbolise that willingness to overcome against all odds.” Agile, short-range interceptors, Spitfires were crucial in the 1940 Battle of Britain as the UK held off the threat of an invasion by Nazi Germany.

The expedition will hail the iconic fighter plane as a symbol of freedom.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2019