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Museum Announces 'The People's Spitfire Pilot'

Published on: 25 September 2017

The RAF Museum's RAF Centenary Programme LogoThe Royal Air Force Museum is delighted to report that over 350,000 votes were cast in 'The People’s Spitfire Pilot' poll, which was hosted by the Daily Telegraph Online.

The majority of votes were for Franciszek Kornicki, the last surviving Polish Air Force sqn commander who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2016.

The RAF Museum is busy preparing for the RAF’s own Centenary next year with a programme of new, exciting and ambitious exhibitions and initiatives funded by the National Lottery.  

A full-length cut out image of Franciszek Kornicki will now stand beside the iconic Spitfire Mk Vb (BL614), in a new exhibition which tells the story of the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force at the Museum's London site.

An artist's impression of 'Defence' part of the First 100 Years of the RAF exhibition

Commenting on the result Franciszek Kornicki said:

“I am surprised and a little bewildered. I was just one of a great many and there were far more distinguished pilots than me flying. 

“My aircraft was cared for by a fitter and rigger – great chaps, both of them – and my only regret is that I cannot recall their names, because they deserve equal recognition for everything this wonderful aircraft achieved.

“When I commanded 317 Squadron at RAF Northolt, off-duty pilots went to the Orchard Hotel in Ruislip for a drink. There were Polish and British pilots, and civilians  from the local area all drinking together. The landlord looked after the youngest and poorest pilots with particular care, and when he noticed a chap trying make his half pint of beer last the evening, he would discreetly send him a pint on the house.”

Franciszek Kornicki

All of the Spitfire pilots featured in the poll will be represented in the new exhibition and online along with many other stories of brave RAF heroes. 

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