British history

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

The best adventures are unplanned. Yesterday on our way past, we called in to RAF Coningsby for Bill to do a bit of goofing at the end of the runway. It is where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is stationed — where they keep planes that survived the Battle of Britain in 1940, that still fly and do the memorial fly pasts on special occasions such as the coronation — though the weather prevented that. We were offered a tour but our guide Julian Maslin apologised because the planes were out — it was the day of the display pilots annual re-accreditation — if we stood outside the Hangar he would tell us about them as they flew past!

At that point, what he had to say was drowned out for a moment as the memorial flight hove into sight from behind the trees.

Well, that was interesting — but what’s this?

Creeping up on the 80 year old Avro Lancaster bomber — it’s one of the display typhoons whose pilot is also due to be re-tested.

Flying along behind at almost stall speed.

He kept his distance as they flew up and down in front of us, and the examiners.

Then along on top! Once the Lancaster had peeled off and landed the Typhoon showed its power and manoeuvrability.

Afterburners firing,

the Typhoon with a banshee wail climbs almost vertically

and loops the loop!

Before streaking past us one last time.

Here’s is her sister, on the ground from 29 Squadron. And a chance to see the Lancaster as she taxies home — a very big bird.

She disgorges her regular RAF crew, who come and greet us, standing on the tarmac. They seem excited by their exercise and relieved to be good for another year.

Time to have a proper look at the Supermarine Spitfire, in desert camouflage.

This one is painted for the invasion in 1944, the stripes to prevent it being shot down by friendly fire.

The Hawker Hurricane that was flying is painted black as for night flying as they did over London in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’

W Churchill