A Spitfire flew over the town earlier this month when Ron Spencer of Crewkerne realised a lifetime ambition. Ron was only nine years old when the Second World War began. He joined the Royal Air Force when he was old enough and served in the Air Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport and in the RAF Shooting Team at Bisley. Although Ron flew on countless dummy testing missions as an air electrician, he never experienced the thrill of sitting in the cockpit and it was always an ambition of his to fly a Spitfire.
Ron’s wish was finally granted when kitted out in flying suit with helmet and safety parachute and having watched a video on safety procedures and what could go wrong, with the option to change his mind, he was strapped into the two-seater vintage aircraft at Exeter airport. Ron said: “The pilot asked if there was anywhere I especially wanted to fly over and was I happy to experience some aerobatic manoeuvres. I took over the controls as we flew over Crewkerne, approximately a seven minute flight from Exeter airport. We flew down over Bridport and completed a loop, victory roll and a Cuban which is an up and over manoeuvre finishing in a roll. It was a fabulous experience with such a perfect landing that I didn’t feel touch down.”
Ron’s flight in the Spitfire was booked through Boultbee Flight Academy UK, who are approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly passengers in vintage war birds. The company has four air bases in England and one in Scotland where plane enthusiasts can experience flying in a Second World War fighter plane. The Spitfire was originally built as a single seat aircraft and used by the RAF and other Allied Countries during and after the war. The aircraft which Ron flew in was adapted to a two-seater for training purposes and to allow the general public to fly.
The aircraft’s 40 year service history included strapping missions over France and pilots of many nationalities had previously sat at the controls in the cockpit, including Dutch and Canadian servicemen. Ron said: “I haven’t watched it yet but there was a video cam on the hood which recorded the entire 30 minutes of flying time. It’s something I can enjoy watching, share with family and friends and keep for posterity. (photo courtesy of Ron’s daughter Marion Spencer)