The Spitfire Trail 2020

Tour summary (click to expand)

The Spitfire Trail

Explore the history of the iconic Spitfire on this three week escorted tour to the UK. 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. Spend time in Kent "Hellfire Corner" and visit the memorial to "The Few". See what is being done today at restoration facilities to restore and keep the few remaining Spitfires airworthy and accessible to us all. Experience the sound of up to 18 Merlin and Griffon engines roaring as the Spitfire Scramble opens the show at Flying Legends. You will also get to see hundreds of military aircraft from the many countries participating in the Royal International Air Tattoo, along with the Edwardian favourites at Shuttleworth. 

Including......

Sywell Aviation Museum, The Shuttleworth Collection & Airshow, Fan Bay Deep Shelter, RAF Manston History Museum, Spitfire & Hurricane Museum, Battle of Britain Memorial & The Wing, Kent Battle of Britain Museum, Dover Castle, Bleriot Museum, Biggin Hill, North Weald Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Flying Legends Airshow, Bentley Priory, RAF Museum Hendon, Farnborough Air Sciences Trust including Wind Tunnels, Royal International Air Tattoo, Boscombe Down & Old Sarum, Solent Sky, Wight Aviation Museum, Airframe Assemblies, Isle of Wight Railway, Boultbee Academy and Tangmere Military and Aviation Museum.

Pre Tour

Overnight in Auckland if required

If you are travelling from further afield, don't want to risk bad weather on the morning of departure, or just prefer a more leisurely start to your trip and to meet a few of the guests before departure day, we recommend overnighting at Auckland Airport on the 1st July. We usually have a drink and bite to eat together in the evening.

Hotel - to be confirmed

Day 1 : Thursday 2nd July : Auckland - Singapore

Departure flight SQ286

Meet & greet at Auckland Airport at 11am for our flight SQ286 departing at 2.10pm. We arrive in Singapore at 9pm and settle in for our overnight accommodation at the airport.

What you'll love today : Getting to know your travel companions, some of whom may be friends from previous tours.

Hotel : to be confirmed, 1 night

Included : Lunch/Dinner in flight

Day 2 : Friday 3rd July : Singapore - London

Arrival in London

After a leisurely breakfast we will depart today on SQ318 at 12.35pm, arriving in Heathrow at 7.15pm. We will be picked up by our coach and transferred to our hotel in Bedford.

What you''ll love today : The excitement of our arrival into the UK and the tour ahead.

Hotel : Barns Hotel, Bedford, 3 nights

Surrounded by picturesque views of the River Great Ouse and three acres of charming grounds, Barns hotel is a short walk from Bedford town

Included : Breakfast at the hotel, Lunch & Dinner in flight

Day 3 : Saturday 4th July : Sywell Aviation Museum

Home of the Grace Spitfire and Ultimate Warbirds Flights

Sywell Aerodrome is home to a small but award winning Museum which shares the rich heritage of the aerodrome and Northampton. It is also home to Ultimate Warbird Flights who operate the famous Grace Spitfire. If we are lucky we may get to see some flying action as well. Do let us know if you would like to tick this off your bucket list and book a flight!

What you'll love today : Hopefully your first encounter with a Spitfire.

Hotel : Barns Hotel, Bedford

Included : Breakfast/Welcome Dinner

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Day 4 : Sunday 5th July : Shuttleworth Collection & Air Show

A beautiful setting

We will spend the day at The Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden and enjoy the afternoon air display. The collection depicts the history of flight from the early 1900s to the 1950s and shows how the aeroplane operated in the pioneering years, was rapidly developed through necessity during World War I, was used for sport, pleasure and business in the 1920s and 30s and once again became a fighting machine in World War II. Also includes the beautiful Swiss Gardens and Shuttleworth House.

What you'll love today : The combination of the historic house, beautiful gardens, the older aircraft and the picnic setting for the afternoon airshow.

Hotel : Barns Hotel, Bedford

Included : Breakfast

Shuttleworth 2018

Day 5 : Monday 6th July : Fan Bay Deep Shelter

The White Cliffs of Dover

This morning we head down to Kent and take a walk along the legendary white cliffs of Dover. Hidden below is an abandoned tunnel complex constructed in 1940/41 as accommodation for the gun battery above. For those keen, we will descend into Fan Bay Deep Shelter to explore the tunnels and see two sound mirrors, First World War early acoustic warning devices, up close and find out more about them. We will then continue to South Foreland Lighthouse and tearooms. 

What you'll love today : Walking the White Cliffs of Dover and on a good day you'll see the French coast.

Hotel : The Royal Hotel, Deal,  3 nights

Regally positioned on the seafront in Deal, the 18th century Royal Hotel combines charming Georgian period features with stunning contemporary comfort.

Included : Breakfast

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Day 6 : Tuesday 7th July : Battle of Britain Memorial and Kent Battle of Britain Museum

The Memorial, The Wing and the Museum

This morning we visit the Battle of Britain Memorial and The Wing which houses The Scramble Experience, a hands-on attraction that uses audio-visual effects, a video wall and other special techniques to show something of what it was like for the Few in the summer and early autumn of 1940. We spend the afternoon at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, the most comprehensive and longest serving Battle of Britain Museum in the UK.

What you'll love today : The serenity of the memorial and the worlds largest collection of Battle of Britain memorabilia.

Hotel : The Royal Hotel, Deal

Included : Breakfast

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Day 7 : Weds 8th July : Manston Museums & Dover Castle

The Castle, The Secret Tunnels and the Bleriot Memorial, and Manston

Our morning starts with a short trip up to Manston to explore the two museums onsite, The Spitfire and Hurricane Museum and Manston History Museum. Then we roam through centuries of history at the most iconic of all English fortresses - Dover Castle. From the Romans to the Cold War, from The Keep to the Secret Wartime Tunnels, this medieval castle will keep us busy. It was from here that the extraordinary evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk was masterminded in May and June 1940. Just outside the castle is the memorial to Louis Bleriot who landed here in 1909 on the first cross channel flight.

What you'll love today : Diverse history and the view from the top of the Keep

Hotel : The Royal Hotel, Deal

Included : Breakfast

Dover Castle

 

Day 8 : Thursday 9th July : Headcorn Aerodrome and Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar

Biggin Hill and North Weald Airfield & Museum

We start the day at Headcorn Aerodrome where we meet the team at Aero Legends and see their Spitfire pleasure flight operation. After lunch we head to Biggin Hill. The Hangar houses an amazing collection of airworthy Spitfires, probably the greatest concentration of Spitfire activity in the world, plus several others undergoing restoration by the Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Ltd. In addition the collection also currently includes an airworthy Hawker Hurricane Mk I, Europe's oldest flying Harvard and a 1944 ex-USAAF Piper L4 Grasshopper. Our guided tour of the hangar is included; you have an option to “Sit in a Spit” for an additional cost.

What you'll love today : Being surrounded by so many Spitfires and hopefully witnessing some lucky bugger take to the skies in a pleasure flight. It could be you!

Hotel : Arundel House Hotel, Cambridge

Beautifully located overlooking River Cam, just a short walk from the City Centre.

Included : Breakfast

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Day 9 : Friday 10th July : At leisure or IWM Duxford

Your choice of a rest day or an Imperial War Museum Duxford pre visit

Enjoy your day at leisure your way. If you would like to maximize time at Duxford and you only plan the one day at the airshow,we suggest a pre visit to the IWM to ensure that you get to see everything. Otherwise you can explore Cambridge, take a punt ride down the backs of the University buildings, have a pint in the famous Eagle Pub, hop on and off the bus for a tour and visit the Military Cemetery. If you are a fan of the tv show Grantchester you could pop out to the village as see where it was filmed. or hop on a train to the amazing Ely Cathedral.

What you'll love today : A relaxing day of your choice!

Hotel : Arundel House Hotel, Cambridge

Included : Breakfast

IWM Duxford

 

Day 10 : Saturday 11th July : Flying Legends Airshow

The Greatest Warbirds Event in Europe

Today is one of the tour highlights, Duxford and the “Flying Legends” Airshow, the Greatest Warbirds Event in Europe produced by The Fighter Collection in association with Imperial War Museum. Our Gold Pass includes use of a lined and carpeted marquee with luxury toilets, seated viewing enclosure, private access to the flight line walk, a souvenir programme, and a collectible badge/pass.  There are many trade stands, the flight line walk, and all of the museum hangars to see before the flying starts usually at 2pm so you may like to take up the opportunity to have the pre-visit first on the Friday and/or a second optional day on the Sunday. Note that we may swap the Sat/Sun around depending on the flying schedule of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight when it is released.

What you'll love today : The atmosphere at Duxford and the breathtaking array of WW2 aircraft.

Hotel : Arundel House Hotel, Cambridge

Included : Breakfast

Flying Legends 2018

Day 11 : Sunday 12th July : At leisure or Flying Legends

Another exciting day at Flying Legends if you wish.

You may choose to return to the airshow for a second day at your own cost. All tickets, admission only or Gold Passes,  must be purchased in advance so please confirm if you would like the extra day. The free shuttle runs from the station to the airshow and back all day.

Alternatively you may have the day at your leisure

What you'll love today : More Spitfires or a day off!

Hotel Arundel House Hotel, Cambridge

Included : Breakfast

Hurricane at Flying legends

Day 12 : Monday 13th July : Bentley Priory

Home to Fighter Command

Bentley Priory, a Grade II* listed Mansion House in Stanmore, was home to Headquarters Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The museum tells one of the most important narratives of modern history – how the Battle of Britain was won and explores how technology, leadership and courage forged victory, enabling Britain’s darkest hour to also be her finest hour. 

What you'll love today : Finding out how the Battle of Britain was won!

Hotel : Harte & Garter Hotel, Windsor, 3 nights

A Clarion Collection hotel located right opposite Windsor Castle

Included : Breakfast

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Day 13 : Tuesday 14th July : RAF Museum Hendon

Celebrating the RAF

Located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, The Royal Air Force Museum London celebrates and commemorates the Royal Air Force. We expect to be here for much of the day. Three new innovative galleries explore the first 100 years of the RAF, its role today and invite visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology. The rest of the site houses the multi award-winning First World War in the Air Galleries, Historic Hangars and Bomber Command Hall. For a small additional cost you can sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire. If you prefer, you can stay in Windsor and visit the castle, shop, take a river cruise - the choice is yours.

What you'll love today : Over 85 aircraft, including aero engines and marine craft.

Hotel : Harte & Garter Hotel, Windsor

Included : Breakfast

RAF Museum Hendon

Day 14 : Wednesday 15th July : At Leisure in Windsor

Explore the historic town & surrounds

Today you can choose to explore Windsor Castle, the Great Park, Saville Garden, St Georges Chapel, cruise the river, or walk around Eton College area. You could head into London for the day by train.

What you'll love today : Freedom to do as you please!

Hotel : Harte & Garter Hotel, Windsor

Included : Breakfast

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Day 15 : Thursday 16th July : Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum

Including wind tunnels

FAST (the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust) was founded in 1993 to safeguard Farnborough's priceless aeronautical heritage. The museum holds a collection of aircraft, satellites, simulators, wind tunnel and Royal Aircraft Establishment-related material. No other single location in the world has contributed so much to the development of aeronautical science over such a long period of time. Our visit today will be truly fascinating and includes a tour of two of the wind tunnels in the architecturally important listed buildings, not open to the General Public.

What you'll love today : The sheer enormity of the wind tunnels!

Hotel : Jurys Inn, Swindon, 3 nights

Centrally located hotel, near the station and shopping.

Included : Breakfast, lunch

Wind Tunnel

Day 16 : Friday 17th July : At Leisure in Swindon or Air Tattoo

Explore Swindon or a day at the Air Tattoo

Today you can have an optional day at the Royal International Air Tattoo at your own cost. Public shuttle buses run from the station which is an 8 minute walk from our hotel, to Fairford. Please confirm if you intend to go so we can orgenise your tickets, admission only or one of the enclosures.

Alternatively, have a day at leisure. There is the Great Western Railway's STEAM Museum and sharing the site you'll find a Designer Outlet with over 90 shops. That's probably all you need for the day.

What you'll love today : Fast jets at the Air Tattoo or a complete change of scenery with trains & shopping.

Hotel : Jury's Inn, Swindon

Included : Breakfast

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Day 17 : Saturday 18th July : Royal International Air Tattoo

Worlds Largest Military Airshow

The Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military airshow, has gained the well-earned reputation as one of the UK's top outdoor events. Over two miles of static aircraft, interactive activities and ground exhibitions with a thrilling 8 hour flying display including fast jets, giant transporters, historic aircraft and much more. Enjoy the show with our Cotswold Club pass including lunch. 

What you'll love today : Seeing hundreds of aircraft from around the world.

Hotel : Jury's Inn, Swindon

Included : Breakfast

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Day 18 : Sunday 19th July : Boscombe Down Aviation Collection and Old Sarum

The history of test flight and some medieval ruins

We begin our day at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection which tells the history of Boscombe Down and explains the place it has in the history of flight and flight test. Military flying began at Boscombe Down in 1917 and continues to the present day.  Experimental operation began in 1940 and the site remains at the forefront for testing as the UK’s and Western Europe’s only dedicated military flight test centre.

Nearby, Old Sarum is one of the most enthralling and historically important English Heritage sites in southern England. Uniquely, it combines a royal castle and cathedral within an Iron Age fortification, and for 150 years was a major centre of both secular and ecclesiastical government. After lunch we will explore the ruins.

What you'll love today : Learning about the base for military test flights and a bit of medieval history.

Hotel : room2, Southampton, 2 nights

A spacious and modern "Hometel" in the centre of Southampton and 10 minutes walk from Solent Sky

Included : Breakfast

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Day 19 : Monday 20th July : Solent Sky

The history of RJ Mitchell, where it all began.

It's a short walk this morning to Solent Sky, The "Birthplace" and  "Home" of The Spitfire. The Museum showcases the history of aviation in Southampton and the Solent area, and pays tribute to RJ Mitchell. Geographically this was one of the most important areas in the country, if not the world, for aircraft experimental and development work between 1908 and the late 1960s, the most famous being the Spitfire. There are 18 aircraft of various types, including the Spitfire and S6b. In the afternoon you have some free time.

Hotel : room2, Southampton

Included : Breakfast

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Day 20 : Tuesday 21st July : The Needles Old & New Battery

Along with High Down rocket test site

This morning we take the ferry across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, where we visit the Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site perched high above the Needles Rocks. The remains of the High Down Test Site are a rare example of a 1950s secret British rocket test facility.  The old and new batteries were built above the Needles stacks to guard the West end of the Solent.

What you'll love today : An amazing view of The Needles

Hotel : Albion Hotel, Freshwater Bay, 2 nights

A family run hotel located on the seafront in the tranquil Freshwater Bay with spectacular views.

Included : Breakfast & Dinner

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Day 21 : Wednesday 22nd July : Wight Aviation Museum and Airframe Assemblies

And the Isle of Wight Vintage Railway

This new museum due to open in April recognises the fusion of marine and aviation skills that led to the building of 600 aircraft on the Island during WW1 and illustrates the intense "War in the Air" over the Isle of Wight, during the Battle of Britain. Sandown Airfield is also home to Airframe Assemblies, a company dedicated to the restoration and repair of airframes for World War II warbirds mainly Spitfires. They will be happy to show us their current projects including a Typhoon. In the afternoon we will visit the old Isle of Wight Railway and take a ride. 

What you'll love today : Seeing the restorations in progress

Hotel : Albion Hotel, Freshwater Bay

Included : Breakfast & Dinner

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Day 22 : Thursday 23rd July : Boultbee Academy and Tangmere Military & Aviation Museum

Home of the Silver Spitfire and homeward bound

We catch our ferry across to Portsmouth and drop into Goodwood to see the Boutlbee Academy where the Silver Spitfire is based. Lunch will be at the Aero Club Cafe overlooking the airfield. Then it's on to Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, which was established in 1982 on the old RAF Tangmere airfield. From its beginnings in 1916, through its illustrious service as one of Britain's front line fighter bases during WW2 and on to its key role as home to the world speed record breaking aircraft of the High Speed Flight in the post war years, it has occupied a unique place in aviation history. The museum contains countless fascinating exhibits. Here you can see priceless historic aircraft such as Neville Duke's world record breaking Hawker Hunter, actual equipment used by the brave SOE agents who were carried into occupied France on 'black Lysander' flights from Tangmere, flight simulators where you can try your hand at flying, a full sized replica of the very first Spitfire prototype and much more.  Our tour concludes and we travel back to Heathrow for the flights home or your onward journeys. We will arrive around 6pm, Singapore Air flight SQ321 departs at 10.05pm.

Please note that your tour leaders will be staying on in the UK for a few days. 

What you'll NOT love today : Saying farewell.

Included : Breakfast, late dinner in flight

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Day 23 : Friday 24th July : In transit London to Singapore

Connecting through Singapore

SQ321 arrives at 6.10pm and SQ285 departs at 10.45pm. A four and a half hour connection might seem long but there is lots to do at Changi Airport, voted best airport in the world 5 years in a row. Visit the Butterfly Garden, the Koi Pond, get a massage, take a dip in the rooftop swimming pool (charge applies), do some plane spotting while enjoying the sunflower garden. 

If you would like some time in Singapore on the way back, please ask and we can change your return flight to suit you. There may be an additional cost subject to availability so to avoid this please let us know asap.

You may like a one night stop just to get some sleep and break the journey, or you may want to explore Singapore. There is the Singapore Air Force museum.

Included : Breakfast in flight

Day 24 : Saturday 25th July : Singapore to Auckland

Arrival home, tired but with happy memories.

SQ285 arrives in Auckland at 12.20pm with plenty of time for domestic connections if required.

We hope you have had a wonderful time.

Included : Breakfast in flight

Tour Cost & Inclusions

$11995 per person, twin share, Auckland - Auckland
$2890 single supplement. Single accommodation is priced for single occupancy of a double or twin room to give you as much space as possible. If you are happy to have a single room please advise and we will get this as low as possible.

Price inclusive of:

  • Economy return Airfares with Singapore Air
  • Private coach transport
  • All accommodation around 4* where possible
  • All breakfasts, dinners as stated (some may be in flight)
  • All entries as outlined in the itinerary
  • Tour escorted by experienced Tour Leaders
  • Gratuities
  • Gold Passes for Flying Legends and Cotswold Club for Air Tattoo

 

Premuim Economy Upgrade - please add $4290 per person

Business Class Upgrade - please add $6890 per person

Land Only Cost - $8990 per person twin share

$500 non refundable deposit is required to confirm your reservation. Balance is due end of March 2020 

Please note that there is flexibility with this tour so if you would like to leave early to go to Oshkosh for example, or stay on for the War & Peace Revival, or to have any arrangements changed to suit you, please ask.

Printable Itinerary

Printable itinerary - click here

Terms & Conditions

The small print

Tour costs are based on specially negotiated airfares on which special conditions apply and on a minimum number of 14 passengers. Should numbers not reach 14 we reserve the right to cancel the tour and a full refund will be made. There will be no further obligation on the part of Aviation Tours NZ. For passengers travelling alone, a single supplement is payable, or there is the possibility of a same sex room share. If you cannot be matched, the single supplement is payable.
A reasonable level of fitness is required to make the most of the museums and sightseeing.
Due to the historic nature of some of our hotels you may be expected to manage a set of stairs; however there will be porterage for your luggage on these occasions. Some hotels have showers over the bath as is common in Europe. Twin rooms will have separate beds but these are somtimes still quite close together.
If improvements can be made to the itinerary or circumstances beyond our control make it necessary to make any changes, we reserve the right to do so.
Tour costs are based on exchange rates as at September 2019 and are subject to change. Airfares are based on group departures and taxes correct as of September 2019. Should these costs change it may be necessary to make a surcharge on the tour or call in final balances early.  Once full payment has been received, no surcharge will be made in respect of currency or fuel surcharges. However, changes imposed by governments or their agencies are not covered by this guarantee.
Notice of cancellation must be in writing. Changes to flights once ticketed will incur charges.
After final balance has been paid, the following scale of charges will apply.
Cancellation periods as follows
Up to 31st March 2020 - Loss of deposit
1st April to 30th April - 50% loss
1st May to departure - 100% loss
For cancellations, we regret that we are not able to make refunds against any unused part of the tour. It is therefore essential that you have sufficient insurance to cover your loss. We strongly recommend a complete and comprehensive travel insurance policy. Be sure toobtain medical certificates and documentation to support any claim you may need to make.
We accept no responsibility for any loss caused through insufficient or lack of insurance cover.
The international airfare on which this tour is based allows individual passengers to return independently on a space available basis. Early booking is recommended to avoid increased cost.
A current passport is essential, with at least 6 months validity. NZ, AU and UK passport holders do not require visas. Passports and visa are your responsibility so please check validitiy and ensure a re-entry permit is obtained if necessary for return to your home country.

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