Fly in a Spitfire, the iconic fighter from World War 2.
Yes this is your chance to take to the skies in one of the last remaining examples of this rare but incomparable airplane.
Alasdair’s recommended Spitfire flight experience
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The Supermarine Spitfire, to give it its full title, is the British fighter plane that was responsible for so many Allied victories during the Second World War and although over 20,000 of these machines were manufactured and put into service, there remain a mere handful – around 50 planes – airworthy and capable of leaving the ground.
Many more have been preserved for ground exhibition and can be seen at airfields and museums throughout the world. And while just looking at one of these close up can be enough to send a thrill up the spine, there is absolutely nothing to compare with taking a ride in one of these rare bad boys.
And as time passes, you can bet that the number of airworthy Spitfires will decline, despite the best efforts of enthusiasts, so if taking to the skies in this iconic fighter is one of your dreams, then don’t hang about too long. Take it while you can.
To check out the full range of Spitfire experiences, have a a look at the complete list of those available in the UK from the top experience providers. The list is refreshed daily and the prices are bang up to date.
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The Supermarine Spitfire
Introduced in 1936, the Spitfire was manufactured by the Supermarine company, a subsidiary of Vickers Armstrong to the design of Reginald Mitchell. Mitchell designed a number of aircraft before his tragically early death from cancer at the age of 42, and this is by far his most famous, intended to be a short-range, high-performance reconnaissance and interceptor plane. Mitchell’s life is depicted in the film The First of the Few, and Mitchell is famous for remarking when hearing that the RAF had named his plane “Spitfire” that it was “just the sort of bloody silly name they would choose!”
Oddly enough, it was the Spitfire that was to become synonymous with British air-power, even though the Hawker Hurricane played a greater role in some of the famous conflicts such as the Battle of Britain in 1940. Either way, the Luftwaffe soon learned to fear and show appropriate respect to these amazing little airplanes. And starting its life with a Rolls Royce powerplant producing a mere 1030 horse power, developments throughout its life cycle ended up providing the machine with Rolls Royce Griffon engines producing well over twice that power (2340 hp) and giving a significantly more powerful and fearsome weapon of war.
Can I fly the Spitfire myself?
Well the bad news is that no, you can’t take the controls. The surviving airplanes are much too rare and important for that, as well as requiring a fair degree of skill to handle them. While this fighter can perform amazing feats in experienced hands, it was not regarded as a particularly easy plane to learn to fly.
BUT the good news is that you can go up in one as a passenger, piloted by an expert. It’s not cheap, but it certainly is a rare experience and good value for money even so.
Your experience will take between five and six hours, with about half an hour in the plane itself – some twenty minutes actually in the air. It’s just the two of you in the plane, you and the pilot, so you’ll get preferential treatment and one on one guidance from your experienced flyer pilot.
You’ll notice that “Spitfire flights” are advertised at a few hundred pounds rather than the thousands of my recommended experience. You’ll find, however, that what happens in practice on these less costly experiences is that you go up in another classic plane – typically a de Havilland Dragon Rapide, or something similar, and fly alongside a real Spitfire so you can see it in the air up close and personal.
This is a fantastic experience in itself, and if your budget runs to hundreds rather than thousands, is not to be missed. But if you can possibly run to it, buy the flight inside the actual Spitfire itself while you have the chance. You’ll be glad you did.
And just to whet your appetite, here’s a Youtube video of one of these bad boys in action.