“I often fly on trips in a Piper Arrow with my photographer friend David Nutting and it was on one of these short flights to Shobdon Airfield in Herefordshire for lunch that I bought a Spitfire raffle ticket. I’d heard of AWB and the great work they do and was happy to support them. Imagine my very pleasant surprise when I later received a call saying I’d won!
“On the day of the Spitfire flight I flew with David in the Arrow from my home base at Coventry Airport to Sywell Airport and that was a nice way to arrive. My initial thoughts were to fly back to Coventry in the Spitfire for a flypast over the runway but the weather, although suitable for local flying, was too cloudy for a cross country flight.
“While David prepared to take photographs I went for an extensive ‘before flight’ briefing given by Carolyn Grace, who with her team runs the operation, and by one of her pilots, Jon Goudy. Carolyn often pilots the Spitfire herself but on this occasion my pilot was to be Jon whose ‘day job’ was flying a BA 747! The Grace Spitfire was built in 1944 and is credited with shooting down the first enemy aircraft during the D Day landings in Normandy on one of its 160 sorties so it had quite a combat record.
“Although I had been a GA pilot for 25 years all my flying had been on more modern types so with no experience of a ‘warbird’ the historic Spitfire was quite a surprise. With its smell, noise and great power, as well as its rather vintage set of instruments, it was completely different to what I was used to.
“When in safe flight I was allowed to do some general handling of the Spitfire and found the controls to be very light, especially in pitch, so initially I was all over place. It was great fun, though, and I did get the hang of it eventually! With Jon I also enjoyed some aerobatics over Northamptonshire and that was quite an experience.
“In fact the entire event was a memorable experience and the flight is now recorded in my log book. Enormous thanks to the Grace Spitfire team, to Stan Stewart at AWB and to David Nutting for the great photos and video clips.
“You should buy a ticket for this year’s raffle as it’s all for a good cause and the next winner could be you”.