On a ‘dark day’ in September I was supposed to be at RAF Hendon sitting in the cockpit of a Spitfire. Instead, I found myself in Addenbrooke’s Hospital having major eye surgery so I sent Bob in my place (he really enjoyed it!).
Luckily, the museum released some new dates and so, sitting at home waiting for my vision to return, I booked myself on another ‘Spitfire Cockpit Experience’. Something to look forward to as I recovered from my eye Op!
Fast forward to the very last day of October: here I am at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
So, I’d finally fulfilled one of my boyhood dreams: to sit in a Spitfire! I wasn’t disappointed.
Clambering in through the small door and sliding down into the pilot’s seat.
With the cockpit door closed I immediately felt part of the aircraft, scanning the instruments, handling the controls and breathing in the smells of ‘old aircraft’.
A view of the cockpit , I’ve even got my boots into the picture!
This is the sort of view the pilot gets while taxying, i.e. bugger all. He would have to zig zag to get a view of the runway ahead before accelerating to get the tail up.
They even loaned me a WWII flying helmet so I could do the full Biggles impersonation. Tally Ho!
‘My’ aircraft was Supermarine Spitfire MK XVI built at Castle Bromwich in 1944. Serial RW373, she spent her early life in a training role before moving to 31 Squadron at RAF Hendon in 1949 as the personal aircraft of the AOC Fighter Command. Damaged in a landing accident at Hendon in 1951, after repair she moved around a lot, including a spell as a Gate Guardian and museum displays, until finally returning to her current location in July 2015. You can get the full history from the RAF Museum archives.