Take to the skies in a series of Spitfire flights from Biggin Hill, the historic World War II fighter base in Kent. Experience the power of this iconic fighter plane as you soar through the skies of southern England, just like the young RAF pilots did 80 years ago. The engineers and pilots that make up the ‘Fly A Spitfire’ team are dedicated to maintaining and flying Supermarine Spitfires, thus providing these unique experiences to anyone willing to strap in.
What is the Biggin Hill Spitfire Experience?
The Biggin Hill Spitfire Experience is one of the few places in the world that allows visitors to get up close and personal with one of the most iconic fighter planes of World War II. The experience takes place at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar in Kent, England, where engineers and restorers maintain the aircraft in peak condition. As well as flights in a Spitfire, visitors are able to sit in the cockpit and explore the controls, as well as learn about the history of the aircraft and its role in WWII during guided tours of the hangars. The experience is both educational and exciting, and it is sure to be a memorable one for everyone who visits.
White Cliffs Spitfire Flight Experience
A 55 minute flight experience in the rear seat of a combat veteran MKIX Two Seater Spitfire (10 Minutes for preparation, taxiing and pre-flight checks and approximately 45 minutes airborne).your Spitfire flight also includes:
Biggin Hill Spitfire flights are of course two seater Spitfire flights (though you can train to fly solo if you have the flying experience and deep pockets required). Those who have completed such flights from this legendary airport have had a tasted of what is to many, aviation heaven. They have slipped the ‘surly bonds’ that inspired Spitfire pilot John Magee (No. 412 Squadron RCAF) to write this now historic poem before his untimely death during the Battle of Britain.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blueJohn Gillespie Magee Jr. (9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941)
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
What is the history of the Supermarine Spitfire?
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. The Spitfire was built in several variants, with several different wing configurations. It was manufactured in large number throughout the conflict, often in small factory units dispersed around the country in attempts to avoid detection by enemy reconnaissance and the bombing that followed. The Spitfire continued to be used after the war ended by other air forces, serving in various roles such as a training aircraft and an air defense fighter, but the new jet aircraft of the late 1940s quickly replaced Spitfires in the RAF squadrons.
The origins of the Supermarine Spitfire can be traced back to the early 1930s when designer R. J. Mitchell started working on a series of proposals for a new fighter aircraft. One of these proposals, known as the Type 224, a low-wing monplane designed to replace the Gloster Gladiator, was selected by the British Air Ministry as the winner of a competition in 1934. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine, the forerunner for the Merline engine. The Type 224 was then further developed into what would become the Supermarine Spitfire.
The first prototype of the Supermarine Spitfire, which was designated as K5054, made its maiden flight on March 5, 1936 at Eastleigh Airfield in Hampshire (now Southampton Airport). The aircraft performed well and showed great potential. As a result, an order for production aircraft was placed by the Air Ministry. The first production aircraft flew on July 4, 1938 and entered service with the Royal Air Force later that year.
By the time World War II started in September 1939, there were already hundreds of Supermarine Spitfires in service with the RAF. The aircraft proved to be invaluable during the Battle of Britain where it helped defend England against the German Luftwaffe’s air offensive. After the fall of France and the defeat at Dunkirk, Britain stood alone and it seemed an invasion by the Nazis was only a matter of time, but first the Luftwaffe needed to gain air superiority, and so the Battle of Britain began.
From June until September during the summer of 1940, day and night, young British and Commonwealth pilots took to the skies in Spitfires and Hurricanes to engage in aerial combat with the Luftwaffe’s bombers and fighters. Despite very poor odds, the RAF managed to shoot down so many of the enemy aircraft that eventually Operation Sealion, the German name for the invasion of Britain, was called off.
The Supermarine Spitfire continued to see action throughout the war in various roles such as bomber esort, reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, and numerous ground attack configurations.
After the war ended, many Supermarine Spitfires were sold off or scrapped. However, some were kept for use in various roles such as training and air defense. The last active military unit to fly the Supermarine Spitfire was No. 54 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force which retired its aircraft in 1957. Today, many Supermarine Spitfires have been restored and are still flown by private individuals and organizations around the world.
Why are Spitfires so iconic?
Spitfires are iconic for many reasons but mainly because they are beautiful airplanes to watch and hear, and because they distinquished themselves in som many ways during World War II. They have sleek lines and look powerful and graceful in the air, capturing the attention of everyone, including those who otherwise have no interest in aircaft.
For the pilots who flew them into battle, they were distinct from other fighter aircraft. Many described how piloting a Spitfire is more like being enveloped and at being at one with the aircraft, and those who fly them today report the same sensation.
Although they weren’t as numerous as the Hawker Hurricane and didn’t shoot down as many aircraft, they were singled out due to their overall design and speed.
How does it feel to fly in a Spitfire?
As anyone who has done so but be prepared to listen for several minutes while they describe it all! Words like ‘exhiliration’ and ‘fantastic’ will likely be used in the description, and most of all they will describe a sense of freedom and joy and how you can’t help but be in awe of the power and grace of this magnificent machine.
Flying a Spitfire is truly an unforgettable experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do so.
Book your own Biggin Hill Spitfire Experience today!
The Biggin Hill Spitfire Experience is a great way to get up close and personal with one of the most iconic fighter planes of all time. You’ll have the opportunity to see the plane up close, sit in the cockpit, and even take a flight in it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly in a piece of history, and you’re sure to have an incredible experience.
Biggin Hill Airfield
Biggin Hill airfield, or ‘Biggin on the bump’ as it is also known, has a history steeped in the events of World War II when it was an important staging station for RAF squadrons who defended London and southern England from enemy attacks. Specifically, it became a primary base for fighter pilots trying to defend against Nazi Germany’s Blitz bombing campaign of 1940-41. The airfield was bombed frequently and suffered much damage during this time.
After the war, Biggin Hill continued to be a military airfield for many more years. Today, Biggin Hill Airport is a busy General Aviation airfield used by pilots of light aircraft, business jets, and of course, Spitfires.
If you can’t get to Biggin for your Spitfire flight then other locations around England where some of only a few dozen of these iconic aircraft are based and which can offer tandem Spitfire flights.
Of the many thousands of single seat Spitfires built during the Second World War, there are only a few dozen remaining airworthy today. There are even fewer examples of the two seater training version that can accommodate passengers.