Spitfire takes to the skies with thank-you message for NHS

A Spitfire has taken to the skies bearing a special message thanking the NHS for its efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Emblazoned with the words THANK U NHS, the aircraft took off from Cumbernauld Airport in North Lanarkshire on Thursday morning to fly over hospitals around Scotland.

The Spitfire, based at Duxford Airfield near Cambridge, flew over its local area during the weekly clap for carers at the height of lockdown.

On Thursday it is flying over hospitals including the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Perth Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Aberdeen Royal infirmary, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

NHS staff
NHS staff

Pilot and owner John Romain told the PA news agency: “For the last of the claps, my son said why don’t we paint ‘Thank-you NHS’ under the wing of the spitfire because it’s already this lovely blue colour – it was a photo reconnaissance Spitfire, it never carried guns, it just carried cameras and the blue was part of its camouflage.

“So we wrote that under the wings, flew those routes and more and more people just loved seeing the aeroplane. We then decided to do some hospitals, that grew with the NHS saying would you do some more, so the final thing was we said we’ll cover the whole of the UK and we’re in the process of doing that.

“Within the next two weeks we will have covered the whole of the UK.

“The reaction is amazing, it’s pretty humbling, we see hundreds of people out waving, in fact some are even waving bedsheets, they’re waving flags, anything they can get hold of.

“In some cases they don’t appreciate that I can really see them so the more they wave the better, and in fact sometimes with the smaller hospitals the way I’m finding hospitals is the people not the building itself.

“The big ones are easy to find because they’ve got helipads or lots of ambulances near them but the smaller ones can be quite difficult, so I’m seeing the people as being one of my navigation aids at the moment.”

People are also being invited to help raise money for NHS Charities Together by nominating the name of someone who has acted kindly during the pandemic which will be hand-written on to the aircraft as a way of thanking them.


In return for a donation of a minimum of £10, the name they nominate will be one of those written on the Spitfire, which has space for 80,000 names.

The fundraising site can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nhsspitfire.

Among the names already written on the aircraft is Sir Captain Tom Moore, who was knighted for his efforts raising funds for the NHS during the pandemic.

The Spitfire, which belongs to the family-owned Aircraft Restoration Company, was specifically built and used for photo reconnaissance during the Second World War, carrying cameras instead of weapons.

Among those to have flown the aircraft are Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Lettice Curtis, whose signature can already be seen on the side of the Spitfire.