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06.08.2019 Europe

British aviators embark on round-the-world Spitfire flight

By Damian Shepherd - RFI
Wikimedia Commons/Tony Hisgett
LISTEN AUG 6, 2019

Two British aviators set off Monday on a first-ever attempt to fly a Spitfire around the world.

The 76-year-old plane is due to take off from Goodwood Aerodrome in England for a four-month, 27,000-mile adventure.

The mission will honour those who designed, built and flew the Spitfire and act as a symbol of freedom.

Pilots Steve Brooks, 58 and Matt Jones, 45, will take turns in flying to around 30 countries and soar over some of the world's most iconic landmarks.

The silver plane will cross the Atlantic Ocean before passing the Grand Canyon, Mount Fuji and the Great Wall of China.

Spitfires were crucial in the 1940 Battle of Britain as the UK fought off the threat of a Nazi Germany invasion.

Of around 20,000 built, fewer than 250 survive, with only 50 of those still fit to fly.

"It's the most majestic machine," pilot Steve Brooks said.

"The sound is unbelievable. You really get that drumming, beating engine resonating through your whole body."

The restored single-seater flew on 51 combat missions, escorting bombers and conducting fighter sweeps over France.

It is expected to return to Goodwood on December 8.