Live to 100 celebrity guest editor Dr Hilary Jones has taken to the air in a wartime Spitfire to thank the NHS for its work in the coronavirus crisis.
The Good Morning Britain medical expert flew in a two-man Spitfire trainer, in formation with a Spitfire Mk11 painted with the slogan ‘THANK U NHS’ and marked with the names of hundreds of supporters including Dr Hilary’s.
Dr Hilary said “I have always dreamt of flying in a Spitfire as long as I can remember. The beauty of it, the sound of it, and its iconic status as a symbol of freedom and liberty has always meant a lot to me. There are huge parallels too between this machine and the NHS as both have come to the rescue to save the nation in its time of need.”
The Thank You NHS Spitfire flybys were the idea of pilot John Romain of the Aircraft Restoration Company of Duxford, who was renovating the vintage fighter during lockdown when the ‘Clap for Carers’ campaign drew attention to the hard work of front-line NHS workers. John’s son suggested painting ‘THANK U NHS’ underneath the aircraft, and john has since done 270 flybys over NHS hospitals to boost morale.
For a donation to charity, people are able to have their name written on the side of the Spitfire, PL983, which flew as a reconnaissance aircraft during the Second World War and afterwards served as a racer and the personal transport of the American air attaché.
The names of charity donors now cover a third of the aircraft, and Dr Hilary Jones’ name now sits proudly amongst them. People can still nominate a name to be written on this special Spitfire via Just Giving to raise funds for NHS Charities Together – there’s space for 80,000 names on the classic aircraft.
Dr Hilary Jones took to the air in a rare TR9 dual-control training Spitfire, 5RH, enjoying an exciting routine of loops and rolls. Remembering the flight Dr Hilary said: “My favourite part of the experience was looping the loop and doing barrel rolls. These manoeuvres just showcase what this brilliant aeroplane can do. Flying over the beautiful countryside of Cambridgeshire on a fine day in this machine was a dream come true. I even had a little go flying it myself which was incredible.”
Find out more about how Live to 100 celebrity guest editor Dr Hilary Jones took to the air in a wartime Spitfire to thank the NHS for its work in the coronavirus crisis and about the Aircraft Restoration Company’s NHS Spitfire here.