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Spitfire legends honoured at 80th anniversary event

Published on: 2nd February 2016

Date: 5 March 2016
Time: Talk 1 – 11.30am
          Talk 2 – 2.15pm
Cost: FREE

The Supermarine Spitfire, the most famous British fighter aircraft in history first took to the skies on 5 March 1936 and won immortal fame throughout the summer months of 1940 by helping to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain. The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be marking eighty years since the first flight of the Spitfire on Saturday 5 March 2016, with a day of special talks.

The talks will pay tribute to Spitfire creator RJ Mitchell CBE and Vickers Supermarine test pilot Alex Henshaw MBE and the men of the Battle of Britain.

Spitfire creator RJ Mitchell CBE   Alex Henshaw MBE

In the first talk entitled ‘R. J. Mitchell CBE, the Spitfire and the Battle of Britain . . .Their Finest Hour’, Tony tells the story of Staffordshire born R. J. Mitchell CBE, the creator of Britain’s most iconic aircraft and some of the men who flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire, an evolution from the Schneider Trophy Races, first flew in 1936, remained in production through the 1940s and in service throughout the 1950s. Hear stories from some of the men who fought the Battle of Britain, including a distinguished Luftwaffe ace in interviews recorded with Tony. The talk will commence at 11.30am lasting approximately one hour.

The second talk of the day entitled ‘Alex Henshaw MBE. . . The Flight of the Mew Gull and Sigh for a Merlin’ includes video footage of Alex Henshaw telling his own story. He won the King’s Cup Air Race and achieved a record-breaking solo flight from London to Cape Town and back in four and a half days with just a compass, a chronometer and a set of maps - a record unbeaten for more than 70 years. He served throughout the war as Chief Production Test Pilot for Vickers Supermarine, personally testing more than 2,000 Spitfires and the occasional Lancaster at both Southampton and Castle Bromwich (now the Jaguar factory). He finished his flying career marketing aircraft in South Africa where he flew his last epic flight. During the video footage, Alex recalls memories of his heroic tales including flying an aircraft down the centre of Broad Street in Birmingham when asked by the Mayor. The talk will commence at 2.15pm lasting approximately an hour and 15 minutes.

Tony Edwards

The talks will be presented by Tony Edwards, a friend of Alex Henshaw. Tony has enjoyed a comprehensive career within the aerospace industry, commercially, within the Ministry of Defence and Academia. He is a keen supporter of the Royal Air Force Museum and a former Trustee.

Both talks will take place in the museum’s lecture theatre inside the National Cold War Exhibition and are suitable for all ages.

Don’t forget, that of the 1,566 Spitfire I’s that were built, the RAF Museum Cosford is home to the world’s oldest surviving example of its type. Especially for this 80th anniversary event, the canopy will be opened and visitors can get an up-close view of the cockpit. The Spitfire is displayed alongside the Hurricane in the Museum’s War in the Air hangar and viewing will be available all day.

The Spitfire and Hurricane on display at the RAF Museum Cosford

The Museum is open daily from 10am and entry is FREE of charge. To book your place on the FREE talks CLICK HERE. Keep up to date with the latest news and event information by following us on: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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