We always try and take in as much aviation history as possible on our tours and include a good cross section of aircraft, this year will be our most Spitfire intensive tour to date, probably more Spitfires than any other 24 day tour - The Spitfire Trail. With this year being the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, we will explore the history of the iconic Spitfire on our escorted tour to the UK. We will learn about RJ Mitchell's journey in creating what is probably one of the best loved aircraft in aviation history, and see how it contributed to the turning point in WW2. We'll spend time in Kent "Hellfire Corner" and visit the memorial to "The Few" and see what is being done today at restoration facilities to restore and keep the few remaining Spitfires airworthy and accessible to us all. We will experience the sound of up to 18 Merlin and Griffon engines roaring as the Spitfire Scramble opens the show at Flying Legends and get to see hundreds of military aircraft from the many countries participating in the Royal International Air Tattoo, along with the Edwardian favourites at the Shuttleworth airshow.
Over 22,000 Spitfires were built but less than 200 known Spitfires are left today, with only around 60 airworthy, unsurprisingly half of these are in the UK.
The aircraft derived from the 1934 Schneider Trophy winning seaplane, Supermarine S6 which we will also see on tour. In 1936 the Spitfire was born and entered service with the RAF in 1938. The rest, as they say, is history.
As always, operational requirements may affect our plans but here are the Spitfires we hope to see this year.
An art deco aerodrome, home to Sywell Aviation Museum, Ultimate Warbird Experiences and Air Leasing, and the beautiful Aviator Hotel.
ML407 "The Grace Spitfire" TR.9 (G-LFIX) - Airworthy and operated by Ultimate Warbird Experiences for pleasure flights.
EN224 Spitfire F Mk.XII (G-FXII) is also at Sywell under private restoration with Air Leasing - private owner, no opportunity to view though sorry.
A beautiful setting with the Shuttleworth Collection, the Swiss Gardens and Shuttleworth House.
AR501 Spitfire LF Mk.VC (G-AWII) - Airworthy and maintained as part of the Shuttleworth Collection.
In close quarters - the RAF Manston History Museum and Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum.
TB752 Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe - Display only at Hurricane & Spitfire Memorial Museum.
This is one of Aero Legends bases and home to Lashenden Air Warfare Museum
TD314 Spitfire MK IX "St George" Airworthy and operated by Aero Legends for pleasure flights.
NH341 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-CICK) "Elizabeth" Airworthy and operated by Aero Legends for pleasure flights.
With 6 Spitfire restorations complete, BHHH is dedicated to putting Spitfires back in the air.
PA9372 Spitfire F Mk.Ia - Under restoration
LZ842 Spitfire F Mk.IXc (G-CGZU) - Under restoration, should fly 2020
MK912 Spitfire LF Mk.IXc (G-BRRA) - Restoration due to start late 2020
MJ772 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-AVAV) - Airworthy and operated for pleasure flights
MJ627 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-BMSB) - Airworthy and operated for pleasure flights
MT818 Spitfire Mk.VIII (G-AIDN) - Airworthy and on standby for pleasure flights
TA805 Spitfire HF Mk.IXe (G-PMNF) - Airworthy and will operate "Fly with a Spitfire" for 2020
RW382 Spitfire LF MK.XV IE(G-PBIX) - Airworthy and operated for pleasure flights
TE308 Spitfire HF Mk. IXe undergoing inspection and repaint due to fly Summer 2020
One of the best known First World War aerodromes, with the impressive Imperial War Museum, hosting a range of fantastic airshows including the greatest Warbirds gathering in Europe - Flying Legends. Also here, is the Aircraft Restoration Company.
VN485 Spitfire F Mk.24 - On display at the Imperial War Museum.
N3200 Spitfire F Mk.Ia (G-CFGJ) - Airworthy at Aircraft Restoration Company.
PV202 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-CCCA) - Airworthy at Aircraft Restoration Company.
PT462 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-CTIX) - Airworthy at Aircraft Restoration Company.
PL983 Spitfire PR Mk.XI G-PRXI - Airworthy at Aircraft Restoration Company.
A further restoration is underway of a Mk.IX - no details available
Flying Legends is one of the biggest gatherings of Spitfires and aircraft will be confirmed near the time.
EP120 Spitfire LF Vb (G-LFVB) - Confirmed - The Fighter Collection
RAF Museum Hendon
X4590 Spitfire Mk.Ia - On display at the Royal Air Force Museum.
BL614 Spitfire F Mk.Vb - On display at the Royal Air Force Museum.
PK724 Spitfire F Mk.24 - On display at the Royal Air Force Museum.
TB675 Spitfire Xvle - On display at the Royal Air Force Museum.
Royal International Air Tattoo usually has some visiting Spitfires - we will wait to see what is confirmed.
PK683 Spitfire F Mk.24 - On display at Solent Sky.
Airframe Assemblies - Spitfires under restoration but no details available.
K5054 Prototype Replica
EN179 Spitfire MK9 - project for restoration FOR SALE at Boutlbee Academy
MJ271 "Silver Spitfire" Spitfire Mk IX (G-IRTY) - Airworthy at Boultbee Academy
RR232 "City of Exeter" Spitfire HF Mk.IXe (G-BRSF) - Airworthy at Boultbee Academy
SM520 Spitfire Tr.9 (G-ILDA) - Airworthy at Boultbee Academy
That's about all we will have time for in our 3 week trip, the rest hopefully in 2021!
To see the itinerary in detail click here