The Grace Spitfire has been fully serviceable for the 2017 season since mid March. We have already flown 6 passenger days at our base of Sywell Aerodrome making passengers with their friends and families very happy. People who accompany passengers on the day never expect to be allowed to actually get close to our Spitfire but that is what we arrange on these days. The whole group come out to the aeroplane to see the passenger climb into the Spitfire with them all taking photos and feeling the aura of the aircraft first hand. When the passenger in the Spitfire taxis back in their friends, families and children all are out on liveside waiting to see their reaction to the flight after the engine is stopped and they all come up to the cockpit to see the beaming passenger to hear about the experience.
Passenger flight bookings in our Spitfire for the first part of our season, up to the end of June, are fairly full now but there is space in the second part of the season being July through to September, email us on flights@ML407.co.uk to inquire.
The public bookings for this year are updated on the calendar on our website now. There are not as many as usual, the airshow and flying display world is now even more competitive than ever and coupled with the ramifications resulting from the AAIB report on the Hunter accident at Shoreham in 2015 the number of events are well down on previous years. However ML407 is flying regularly throughout the season at Sywell Aerodrome which is a great day out and the Sywell Aviation Museum is open on Wednesdays as well as the weekend now which is an added attraction to a visit to Sywell as well as the pleasure of the Art Deco restaurant, bar and lounge.
The Veterans who both flew and who were ground crew on our Spitfire in 485 (NZ) Squadron in the War have always played an important part in the history of our aeroplane and we are honoured to have been close to so many. Indeed we have the honour of knowing a significant number of Veterans whose life experiences enrich and have indeed enabled our own. The sadness of the recent passing away of the last 485 (New Zealand) Squadron veteran Joe Roddis is helped somewhat by knowing his Spitfire ML407 that he really did care about will continue to fly as he would want. Joe met his (late) wife Betty through being in the Channel Four series ‘Spitfire Ace’. Betty was watching this acclaimed series when she saw Joe whom she had lost touch with during the war after she left ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) Selsey where 485 Squadron were based at the time. Joe and Betty both now widowed (2003) were put in touch with each other when Betty called Channel Four to ask how to contact Joe. They immediately re-kindled their love for each other and remained together until Betty’s passing in late 2013. Their story was on BBC Britain’s Flying Past with John Sargeant when he interviewed the couple at Bentwaters after he flew in our Spitfire. Their story was so touching.
Air Leasing Ltd, our family company, who is the Maintenance Organisation for our Spitfire have done a superb job of the detailed winter maintenance and ML407 does look resplendent as ever parked out on the pan in front of our hangar today, despite the cold north wind. I hope to see you at some stage this season at Sywell.