Wow, just outside London you can fly a vintage WWII Spitfire. We don’t mean you can sit in the cockpit and take a selfie. We mean you can actually take to the skies and take command of a Spitfire.
Now, before you start dreaming of shooting up Nazis like you’re in a Tarantino movie, do know that the .303 machine guns and 20mm cannons have been removed from these Spitfires. So you won’t be blowing anything up from the rear gunner’s position.
But you will experience the classic Spitfire victory roll. Yep, you’ll be sideways and upside down, so we recommend keeping your pre-flight breakfast to only two trips to the buffet table.
These planes can really move. Faster and more agile than Nazi Luftwaffe aircraft, the manouverable Spitfire changed the course of WWII.
You can feel that speed. You can feel the agility as well. You can feel the vibration. Hear the hum. Experience the Spitfire in full flight, weaving and whooshing across the skies of southern England.
What happens when the pilot is hit by machine gun fire? Yep, you guessed it, the rear gunner takes the controls. That will be you, taking control of the Spitfire controls in these dual-control aircraft. Now, you could wait for WWIII and somebody shooting your pilot. Or you could just take the controls as part of this vintage flight experience. It’s your choice. But our recommendation is a victory roll, not an air force fight.
London Biggin Hill Airport was the most famous fighter station of WWII. Our friends over there have 13 vintage Spitfires, a 1940 Hawker Hurricane and even a Messerschmitt 109. If you like planes then we’d recommend the 25-kilometre trip from Central London just to do a tour of their hangar. The restoration facility is great as well, to see the detailed work keeping each of these 80-year-old planes airborne.
The real reason to come out here is to fly. There’s the thrill of flight, but also a wonderful sightseeing view onto southern England, especially on longer flights going out to the White Cliffs of Dover.
Not everyone wants to fly a WWII fighter jet. What’s exhilarating to some is absolutely frightening to others. There is a nice option to fly in a “chaseplane” as well. One of you can be in the Spitfire cockpit having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then up to four others can fly wing to wing alongside the Spitfire in a high-wing formation aircraft. It’s the same sightseeing route, with a view onto your friend or loved one in the Spitfire.
It’s also possible to do a Spitfire formation flight alongside a friend, each of you in a dual-control Spitfire. But no, you can’t fly together with a friend in these two-seater aircraft. No Nazis will be shot during the flight, nor do we want a vintage £2-million aircraft crash landing into Canterbury Cathedral.
The experience takes place one hour outside Central London. Spitfires can take to the skies every day, weather permitting. We all know the weather’s reputation in England, so we recommend planning a Spitfire flight for the start of your London stay, thereby allowing some “reserve” days in your itinerary. On your way back to Central London there are some lovely historical estates and restaurants to complete the day out. Or check out the famous Canterbury Cathedral you didn’t crash into.