Restored WWII Spitfire lands in UK after 27,000 mile worldwide trip

6 December 2019, 10:46

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The pilots of a restored Second World War Spitfire have landed safely back in the UK after a 27,000 mile round-the-world journey.

The two pilots landed back in Britain after flying around the world in the vehicle in the first trip of its kind in a Spitfire.

Steve Brooks, 58, from Burford, Oxfordshire, and Matt Jones, 45, from Exeter, took four months to circumnavigate the globe in the first trip of its kind in a Spitfire.

Over four months, the aircraft stopped off in 100 locations across 30 countries, flying to places where no Spitfire has visited before.

The spitfire was flown around the world by two pilots
The spitfire was flown around the world by two pilots. Picture: PA Images

The plane became famous after its use by Britain and its Allies during the Second World War, before being grounded for the next 50 years.

The original MK.IX LF model was one of the original Spitfire aircraft made in Castle Bromwich in 1943 by British manufacturers Vickers Supermarine Ltd.

It flew more than 51 missions and was in storage in a museum before its restoration began early in 2017.

The aircraft landed yesterday afternoon after its worldwide trip
The aircraft landed yesterday afternoon after its worldwide trip. Picture: PA Images

Over 24 months the Spitfire was restored piece by piece, seeing 80,000 rivets and many other parts entirely dismantled, checked, cleaned and restored before being unveiled in Spring 2019.

The project, called Silver Spitfire - The Longest Flight, started and finished at Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex, the base of Boultbee Flight Academy - the first-ever school for Spitfire pilots.

The trip hasn't been without controversy. Mr Brooks and Mr Jones were left stranded in the Russian town of Sokoi in September following a delay in paying their handlers on the ground.

The aircraft's journey is the first of its kind
The aircraft's journey is the first of its kind. Picture: PA Images

Timeline of the Silver Spitfire

October 1943 The aircraft was delivered from Castle Bromwich, Solihull, to RAF Lyneham, before being finished, tested and harnessed with guns and given to 118 Squadron at RAF Detling.

February 1944 The Spitfire was sent into action, sometimes completing several missions per day, including patrolling the Dutch coast.

April 1944 The plane was moved to be based at RAF Ford and was frequently sent to divebomb targets and encounter greater threats from before.

November 1944 Housed with the 401 Squadron at the Dutch base of Volkel, the Spitfire saw out the war with several missions targeting railways, before sustaining damage in December 1944.

August 1947 After the war, the Mark IX was delivered to the Dutch air force. Over the coming decade, it was struck off and used as a decoy at Volkel, and moved to the Delfzijl War Museum.

April 1973 After more than 25 years on the roof of Delfzijl War Museum, it was transferred to the Anthony Fokker Technical School, before being restored and moved to a museum in Schipol, near Amsterdam.

March 2003 The Spitfire made its final foreign move to Leylstad, before Historic Flying Ltd, based at Duxford, bought it and brought it home in 2006.

September 2016 Boultbee Flight Academy purchased the aircraft and created a plan to have the plane restored to its former glory as the Silver Spitfire.

August 2019 The Mark IX, under the registration G-IRTY, begins its circumnavigation of the globe.

December 2019 The aircraft lands back in UK after its historic round-the-world trip.