Harry’s delight at Spitfire flight


Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Prince Harry has flown a Spitfire – and put it through a dramatic roll – as he caught up with an injured serviceman and veteran hoping to pilot the aircraft in a Battle of Britain flypast.

Howling with delight as he briefly flew upside down, Harry clearly enjoyed his maiden trip in the aircraft – the symbol of Britain’s fight against Hitler’s Nazis during the Second World War.

On the ground he met two men who have won a place on a Spitfire scholarship training programme for wounded servicemen and women, and veterans, with the pair aiming to join an historic aircraft flypast, later this year, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The scholarship was established by the Boultbee Flight Academy and is supported by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund – which donates money and offers practical help to sporting and adventure challenges for service personnel.

Footage and pictures released today of the flight made last August show Harry sat in the back of the two-seater Spitfire and the pilot, instructor Phil O’Dell, giving instructions for the engine to be started, then the plane is seen taking off in formation with an identical aircraft.

Outside the cockpit, the stunning coastline around the Isle of Wight and the neighbouring mainland can be seen.

After the roll Mr O’Dell takes over the controls and before he performs a loop the prince asks the instructor, who is Rolls-Royce’s chief test pilot and head of flying, “what’s the G (force) like on that?” and winces when he hears the reply “about two and a half, three”.

But again the manoeuvre leaves him howling in appreciation with his mouth open for most of the time.

As the wheels touch down at Boultbee Flight Academy in Goodwood, West Sussex Harry, an Apache Helicopter commander, says “my first landing in a Spitfire feels quite good” and when they come to a stop adds “all good things must come to an end”.

The Prince launched the scholarship programme in February last year and it mirrors the training Second World War Spitfire pilots received.

Nathan Forster, 27, a former private in the Parachute Regiment from South Shields, Tyne and Wear and Corporal Alan Robinson, 36, an RAF aircraft technician from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire – who lost a leg in a motorbike accident – have been chosen for the course.

They have begun training on Chipmunk aircraft and will move on to a Harvard and finally the Spitfire.

The scholarship draws inspiration from pilot Douglas Bader, who despite losing both his legs in a crash in 1931 claimed 20 individual aerial victories in the Second World War.

Mr Foster, whose left leg was severely damaged by an IED blast while he was on a foot patrol in Helmand Province in 2011, hopes to use the experience gained from the project to launch a career in aviation.

He said: “This is my Everest, to achieve a solo flight in an Spitfire. I never thought I would get close to the aircraft let alone fly it, it’s every boys’ dream to get into the cockpit.

“You cannot ask for anything better to fly as a pilot but the flipside is to experience, in a way, what the guys went through 70 years ago, training to fly for the Battle of Britain – it’s mind blowing how these young guys did it.”

Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor

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