Chocks away as the skies are alive at Armed Forces Day

Published: 24 May 2023

A second world war Spitfire in mid-flight

The second air attraction to grace the Solent skies on Sunday 25 June for the Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day will be a unique Spitfire aerobatic display.

Off the beach of Ryde Esplanade, this classic warbird will be put through its paces, performing all the signature Spitfire moves.

Councillor Ian Dore, Armed Forces Day committee chair, said: "From eight years old to 80 years old, everyone recognises the unique sound of the Spitfire, and this is going to be an absolute treat.

"To be clear, this is not a flypast, it’s a full aerobatic display as close to the crowd as is legally possible. It's specifically for Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day and with any luck, you should be able to see the pilot's grin to give him a cheery thumbs up, as he thunders through the routine.

"The Island has an incredible history of Spitfires ranging from pilots to production, and as we know, in the 1930s and 1940s, GKN made Spitfire parts on our fair shores. Along with the Lancaster, it was an obvious choice as it’s a crowd-pleasing favourite and a quality tip of the wing to the Island.”

The aircraft scheduled to display was built in Castle Bromwich by Vickers Armstrong, delivered to the RAF in October 1944.

It was designated as a high-altitude fighter where it was allocated to an anti-aircraft co-operation squadron. It was then sold to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1948 and was last flown there by Lt. Ron Beamish of 2 Sqdn. It was stored and later fully restored to airworthy condition.

Councillor Dore added: “We all know the sound; we all know the difference it made in the war, and we often see one overhead.

"This though, is just for us and is bought to Armed Forces Day in partnership with Ryde Town Council. They put huge value on supporting the Island's Armed Forces community and it is they that have funded this element of the event. For that we are eternally grateful.

"There are estimated to be only 70 of these still flying in the world so along with the other activities Armed Forces Day has to offer, come down to see this classic in action.”

Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day is at Eastern Gardens in Ryde on Sunday 25 June and consists of a full day’s activities, including the Lancaster bomber flypast and this full Spitfire display.

Flight times are to be confirmed so to keep up to speed visit the Isle of Wight Armed Forces Day website

Photo: D. Harbar