‘More than a tinge of jealousy’ – Prince Harry

The project known as ‘The Longest Flight’ took off from Goodwood in Sussex at 1.30pm on Monday.

The iconic Second World War fighter plane, a silver Spitfire, took to the skies in an audacious attempt to fly around the world. Matt Jones from Exeter and fellow pilot Steve Brooks are flying the newly restored original 1943 MK. IX Spitfire named the ‘Silver Spitfire’ 27,000 miles in approximately 100 stages and 30 countries, over a four month period, and hope to arrive back in ‘Blighty’ on the 8th December.

Actors Rosamund Pike and Taron Egerton along with former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard attended the glitzy launch event and Prince Harry wrote to the two pilots wishing them luck, with a ‘tinge of jealousy’.

Matt Jones, 45, told The Moorlander in a recent interview that he and Steve Brooks bought the Spitfire, which had done 51 combat missions during the war. “The plane is an original; most Spitfires have had a lot of replacements parts, but this is virtually as it was built in 1943. Most Spitfires could only take 85 gallons of fuel but after the war many were converted to fly longer reconnaissance missions so the fuel tanks were increased to take 200 gallons which is about 900 miles.”

Matt and Steve left to fly to the Faroe Isles before flying to Greenland, the USA and the state of Alaska before crossing the Bering Straits into Russia. From then to Japan into China were the Silver Spitfire will do a flypast at the Chengdu Air Show, Burma. They will then fly over the Taj Mahal in India and the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt and finally back to Goodwood in early December. Matt told his former co-pilot Peter Roberts from Chagford that he was a bit nervous, but excited to get going; it had been a long time in planning.

The take-off was in doubt as the weather was not great for flying but over a thousand people turned up to see the Silver Spitfire take off at precisely 1.30pm. The plane and pilots will be followed by a chase plane with engineer Gerry Jones and project manager Lachlan Monro.

The Silver Spitfire avoids the militaristic camouflage. The Moorlander will keep you up to date with how Matt, Steve and the Silver Spitfire are progressing.

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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