Valerie Steve Winwood
A Spitfire spectacular has been organised in Southampton to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first ever flight of the iconic plane.
The city is considered the birthplace of the aircraft as it was originally designed by resident Reginald Mitchell, and the prototype (K5054) was first flown from the cities airport in 1936. Following this maiden flight, over 22,500 Spitfires were built and they helped to defend Britain during historic conflicts such as The Battle of Britain.
On Saturday 5th March (75 years to the day) the famous 'Grace Spitfire' will fly over Southampton Water to commemorate this historical anniversary. The pilot, Carolyn Grace, is the world's only female Spitfire pilot. Peter Monk will also be flying his Spitfire (Spirit of Kent) during the day.
The event has been organised by Southampton City Council and The Spitfire Tribute Foundation, in association with Solent Sky Museum, and Southampton Airport.
WHERE TO WATCH IT
Residents and visitors will be able to view this commemorative flight at around 11.30am, subject to weather conditions.
The best vantage points to see the 'Grace' Spitfire in flight will be along the River Itchen, Mayflower Park, Weston Shore, and Victoria Country Park.
Public are asked not to come to Southampton Airport as viewing areas will not be available.
Southampton City Councillor John Hannides, Chairman of the Spitfire Tribute Foundation, said:
"It is a true honour to be a part of such an historical occasion. R.J Mitchell designed the aircraft while working in Southampton, and we as a city should be incredibly proud of the role the Spitfire has played in our country's history."
Dave Lees, Managing Director of Southampton Airport, commented:
"Southampton Airport has a long and proud history of being at the forefront of aviation innovation over the last 101 years. The airport is especially proud to be the site of the very first ever flight of such an iconic and important aircraft in British history. The famous Grace Spitfire re-enacting the first flight is a fitting tribute to this remarkable aircraft, and all who were involved with its design, manufacture and flight."
Last year the Spitfire Tribute Foundation organised a national competition to design a lasting tribute to the Spitfire. In three weeks the Trust received more than 300 entries. The foundation chose a concept by renowned Australian Architect and Spitfire enthusiast Nick Hancock, who will be the passenger in the Grace 2-seater Spitfire.
Fundraising is now underway to help raise the £2m needed for Nick Hancock's design for a national landmark to commemorate the Spitfire.
The monument will sit on land beside the Trafalgar dry dock alongside the state-of-the-art £19m Ocean Terminal, two miles from the Supermarine Aviation site where R.J. Mitchell developed the aircraft.
For further information on the event please visit www.southampton.gov.uk.