Ahead of this year’s Remembrance Day, MMM’s Rasa Dregva had the amazing chance to fly in an iconic Spitfire
So much has been written about the exploits of ‘the Few’ during the Battle of Britain, and their heroics above the county in an aerial fight for supremacy of our skies.
Synonymous with their efforts is that instantly recognisable sound of the Spitfire engine – the aircraft which engaged in the dogfights during 1940 which prevented the Nazis winning the skies, thereby paving the way to a land invasion.
Last month I was fortunate enough to experience what it was like to sit in the passenger seat of one of these iconic aircraft and soar high over Kent’s fields, towns and villages after being invited to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar by our regular history writer,
Robin J Brooks.
Over recent years, Biggin Hill has been providing flight experiences in a two-seater Spitfire, an experience coveted by many.
The airfield was one of those used by Battle of Britain pilots, and the centre has become a key site for the restoration of Spitfires, as well as giving visitors the chance to get up close to these remarkable flying machines.
My pilot was Don Sigournay, who has been flying these magnificent planes full-time for the hangar for the last two and a half years.
The former Royal Navy and commercial airline pilot has spent over 1,000 hours behind the controls of the Spitfire.
Our plane had seen action near the end of the war – once blasting a German Messerschmitt out of the sky over Arnhem in 1944.
It was lovingly restored by a team of engineers overseen by former Ryanair captain Peter Monk, who acquired his first Spitfire in 2004 and brought it back to life at Biggin Hill.
The excitement of climbing into the modified two-seater takes some beating.
After it hurtled along the runway, we gently soared into the skies and up high above Kent.
Quite aside from the magnificent views, the trip was made particularly special as flying alongside me, in another aircraft, were members of my family.
They were able to watch me as the Spitfire cut through the air just like it did to defend our country all those years ago.
After about 20 minutes looking down on the county’s lush fields, we returned to the airport with a perfect landing.
It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one which will live with me forever.
And the good news is that there are opportunities for everyone to experience such a flight for themselves from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.