British Flying Club Plans a Squadron of Spitfires

Supermarine Spitfire

The Enstone Flying Club, a flight school and flying club in Enstone, U.K., is making progress on an ambitious project to create a squadron of 12 90-percent replicas of the Supermarine Spitfire, one of the most famous Allied warbirds of World War II. Named the "City of Oxford," the squadron is expected to include not only a dozen Spitfires but also "ground crews, military vehicle enthusiasts and living history players," according to the Enstone Flying Club's website.

The Spitfires in the squadron will be an experimental version with the designation Mk26B, which was designed by Mike O'Sullivan, an Australian who started the Supermarine Aircraft Company building replicas of the Spitfire in the mid-1990s.

Unlike the single-seat fighter versions, the Mk26B Spitfire will have two seats and cost about $340,000, a fraction of the price tag of an original Spitfire. Part of the savings come from replacing the Merlin V12 engine with a V6 engine. The airplane is expected to fly about 200 mph, a little more than half the speed of the warbird version.

The flying club aims to fly formation exhibitions with the airplanes at events around Europe during the summer months and make the airplanes available to members of the club for personal flights during the remainder of the year. The first airplane is complete and is expected to take to the skies shortly, Paul Fowler, the flight instructor and brains behind the project told The Daily Mail.

The concept for the squadron is to have the airplanes funded by builder-enthusiasts and sponsors. Fowler hopes to get the squadron going by next summer in time for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. However, the likelihood of that is slim. While the first airplane is essentially complete, the project has been ongoing since the fall of 2010.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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