The CAA, with the backing of Grant Shapps and the DfT, waived the current GA restrictions to allows us to fly the Spitfire on VE Day 75, an anniversary that commemorates such an important time in European history. Being at the controls of said aircraft as it traversed the South east of the country, alone in the skies, was a very special experience indeed.
Particularly of note was flying over the QV Hospital in East Grinstead, the place where Sir Archie McIndoe pioneered plastic surgery to rebuild the faces of wartime airmen who had been badly burnt in their aircraft. To see all the medical staff in their scrubs, and patients too, jumping up and down waving at the Spitfire was truly heart warming. The flypasts for Colonel Tom, Dame Vera Lynn and other selected veterans were also a huge honour.
There were thousands of people (social distancing) at each of the eleven locations that we were asked to fly over by the Daily Mail, and there are times in this aircraft when you can feel the emotion in the moment it’s passing overhead is causing. This was certainly one of those. The response we’ve had has been really really incredible. It was a flight designed to help ensure we never forget our nation’s past and the sacrifices made by so many for our benefit. It seems we also really lifted the nations spirits that day, during a tough time for so many. I was so proud to be a part of it. ‘Lest we forget’.