Pilots take off in bid to fly 1943 Spitfire around the world
Two British pilots have taken off on their challenge to fly a newly-restored Spitfire 27,000 miles around the world in the first trip of its kind.
Steve Brooks, 58, from Burford, Oxfordshire, and Matt Jones, 45, from Exeter, Devon, will stop off at 100 locations in 30 countries during the five-month journey.
The project, named Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight, set off from Goodwood aerodrome, the base of Boultbee Flight Academy, the first-ever school for Spitfire pilots, in West Sussex.
A glitzy event was held for the departure attended by celebrities including Gone Girl actor Rosamund Pike, Rocketman star Taron Egerton and Formula One driver David Coulthard.
Speaking ahead of take-off, Mr Jones told PA: “I’m a bit nervous but excited to get going. It’s been a long time in planning and we’ve put a lot of work into this airplane.”
He explained that the biggest challenges the expedition faced were the weather and supplies of aviation fuel (Avgas).
He said: “The weather is going to be the biggest part of it but also getting fuel to the right places, Avgas is very common here and in the US, but in other countries we are having it supplied for us.”
Mr Brooks, who co-founded the school in 2010, said: “I am terribly excited, it has taken us two-and-a-half years and the time has come to stop making excuses and to get going.
“The biggest challenge is the weather as well as some of the longer flights. The longest flight will be Hong Kong to Vietnam which is 500 miles.
“The Spitfire was built as an interceptor which had a range of 300 miles, so the question now is can we nurse it around.”
The pair will first head to Scotland, then westbound to places including the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and India and back to Britain with a single-seated Mk IX Spitfire originally built in 1943, followed by a chase plane for safety.
The pair said they will be taking regular breaks and switch at different stops.
The chase plane, which will have a full-time captain, an engineer, as well as a film and camera crew to video the journey for a documentary, will follow the Spitfire.
Either Mr Jones or Mr Brooks, a property developer, will also be in the plane whenever they are not flying the Spitfire.
As part of the journey, the aviation enthusiasts will travel to Scotland, then spend a couple of nights in Iceland, head through Greenland into Canada, before heading across the US into Russia and then Asia.