As a lover of Spitfires, perhaps the ultimate experience would be to fly in one. A number of companies throughout the UK offer the chance to fly in a TR9 two-seater version. These were used as training aircraft after World War II while some were converted from single-seater airframes to afford people the chance to fly in a Spitfire.
Go Action Spitfire Flying Experiences
Location: Kent, London
The Go Action Spitfire Flying Experience is offered from Sywell, Northampton or Headcorn, Kent. Here you have the opportunity of flying in a Spitfire TR9 two-seater for 20 minutes over the English countryside. Before each flight, a thorough briefing takes places as per Civil Aviation Authority instructions. Then it’s time to suit up as you jump into your flight suit, put on your flying boots and climb into the Spitfire. Radio communication ensures that you can speak to the pilot at all times during the flight, while in-cockpit video recording means you have an incredible memento to take home with you. A photographer will also take pictures of the Spitfire and yourself as you prepare for your flight and after you have landed. A 20 minute flight costs £2500.
Go Action offer other Spitfire related packages as well, from sitting in the cockpit to air tours in another aircraft escorted by a Spitfire. These packages range from £79 to £579.
Aero Legends Spitfire Flights
Location: Kent, London
The Aero Legends Spitfire flight experience is very similar to that offered by Go Action. After receiving a thorough briefing, your 20 minute flight in a Spitfire TR9 two-seater takes place over the English country side near either Sywell or Headcorn. All flights are recorded with cameras inside the plan, while constant communication with the pilot is not only possible, but encouraged! During your flight time, you will feel exactly how those brave men felt so long ago, defending the skies over the UK. A 20 minute flight costs £2500.
In 2017 however, Aero Legends will operate a new Mk IX (NH341) once flown by ace Flt Lt Hugh ‘Charlie’ Trainor and used by the Royal Canadian Airforce’s 411 Squadron. This plane in fact, has two confirmed kills scored over the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. NH 341 is currently under restoration. Her maiden flight will be undertaken at the end of 2016.
Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar and Into the Blue Spitfire Flights
Location: Kent, London
Operating from the famous Biggin Hill aerodrome, the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger operate Spitfire TR9 two-seater MJ627. This aircraft was used during World War II before her conversion into a trainer and has a confirmed kill over a Messerschmitt Me 109 on 27 September 1944. After the war she was converted into the trainer configuration and sent to the Irish Air Force for pilot training. She was completely restored in 1993.
Various flight time packages are available starting at £2750. The experience includes a full briefing, access to the heritage hanger for up to three guests, in-flight recording, radio connection with the pilot, the chance to photograph the aircraft and a memorial patch.
Boultbee Flight Academy Spitfire Experience
Location: Chichester, London
Boultbee boast two Spitfire TR9 two-seaters, SM 520 and PV 202, both built in 1944. PV 202 was converted into a two-seat trainer in 1950 for use by the Irish Air Force. After her service she went through a number of owners, a crash in 2000 and finally a rebuild. SM 520 also lived a very interesting life, spending time in South Africa before ending up on a scrap heap in Cape Town, eventually ending in the hands of Paul Portelli who converted it into a two-seater in 2002. It was bought by Boultbee Flight Academy in 2009.
Boultbee Flight Academy offer many flight experiences in these two Spitfires from 30 minute flips to flying with the Academy’s P51 Mustang or even a dogfight experience against a ME 109 (a licenced built Buchon, the Spanish version of the famous Messerschmitt). These packages range from £2750 to £12 000.
Imperial War Museum – Spitfire Pilot Training Day with Into the Blue
Location: Duxford, Cambridge, London
The Spitfire Pilot Training course can take place over either one or two days. The idea here is to take a step back in history, to follow a similar path that a young air cadet would undertake before he gained his Spitfire wings. As with those young pilots, time is spent learning important theory before you are allowed anywhere near an aircraft! Ground school, or the theory section takes up to three hours for the one day course and six to eight hours for the two day course.
Once complete you will begin with your first flight. This will take place in either a Tiger Moth or Chipmunk and is aimed to give you the feel of both flying a tail dragger and manoeuvring it on the ground. Afterwards, it’s time to take up the Havard. This is a tougher aircraft to fly, but will help to prepare you even more. Lastly, the moment of truth, a flight in the two-seater TR9 Spitfire. Roll out over the airfield as the Merlin roars into life, soon followed by the feeling of ecstasy as she lifts off the ground. There truly is nothing better. Courses range in price from £5,495 to £7,495.
If the experience of flying a Spitfire is just a touch out of your budgetary constraints, fear not, there are other experiences available including flying next to a Spitfire or even sitting in the cockpit of this legendary aircraft.