Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Renowned Second World War-era Spitfire lands in Abu Dhabi

The 'silver Spitfire' is on an ambitious global journey - stopping at 100 locations in 30 countries

The 'silver spitfire' was built in 1943 and flew dozens of combat missions. EPA / British Ministry of Defence
The 'silver spitfire' was built in 1943 and flew dozens of combat missions. EPA / British Ministry of Defence

One of the world’s most famous aircraft has touched down in Abu Dhabi as part of an ambitious around the world flight attempt.

In a flash of silver, the restored Second World War-era Spitfire landed at Al Bateen Airport just before 2pm in the capital on Monday from Gwadar in Pakistan.

British pilots Matt Jones, 45 and Steve Brooks, 58, are hoping to circumnavigate the globe for the first time in the single-seater Mk IX Spitfire taking in landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Mount Fuji.

The striking silver-clad fighter took off from the UK in August and has already travelled west over the US, Japan, Russia and India. Now it has landed in the Middle East before heading back to the UK.

Dubbed, “the longest flight”, it is the first such trip of its kind. Over the course of the five-month, 43,450-kilometre journey, the Spitfire is set to visit 100 locations in 30 countries.

Pilots Matt Jones, left, and Steve Brooks, right, in front of their Silver Spitfire before taking off on their around the world flight in August. EPA / British Ministry of Defence
Pilots Matt Jones, left, and Steve Brooks, right, in front of their Silver Spitfire before taking off on their around the world flight in August. EPA / British Ministry of Defence

"It has taken us two-and-a-half years and the time has come to stop making excuses and to get going,” said Mr Brooks back in August.

Mr Jones said: "I'm a bit nervous but excited to get going."

When not at the controls the other pilot will be in another aircraft following the Spitfire to provide back up and take video footage.

The British aircraft is an icon of the Second World War. It was designed by Reginald Mitchell in the 1930s and became the backbone of Britain’s RAF fighter fleet. Spitfires played a decisive role in the Battle of Britain, when the RAF repelled the Nazi Luftwaffe.

It is believed the fighter will stay in the UAE for a couple of nights before then resuming the journey west through Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The pilots hope the journey will reinvigorate memories of the fighter and inspire a new generation about the romance of flight.

The silver Spitfire was built at the Castle Bromwich factory in England in 1943, fought more than 50 combat missions and wound up in a museum before being restored 70 years later, with a polished fuselage that lends it its name.

Both pilots have carried passengers on Spitfires at their flight academy in the UK and found most were awed by the experience. This - along with financial support of watchmaker IWC - inspired the journey.

More than 20,000 Supermarine Spitfires in total were built - with the aircraft in service as late as 1960 - and it was flown by some 30 air forces. Only a handful are still capable of flying.

Now the silver Spitfire is helping to keep the legend alive.

Updated: November 13, 2019 04:24 PM

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