After hearing news that one English farmer’s 15-year quest to locate Spitfires buried beneath Burma has proven successful, Prime Minister David Cameron has in turn struck a deal to have the iconic aircraft returned to England.
According to the Telegraph, the announcement stems from the dogged efforts of 62-year-old David Cundall, who made it his mission to find the airplanes after hearing about a number of Spitfires buried beneath the Asian country during the final days of WWII.
Cundall spent years gleaning information from public records, veterans and specialists on the subject, and even made a dozen trips to Burma, now Myanmar, in pursuit of the search effort.
The results of that effort finally came to fruition earlier this year, when 12 Spitfires were found with the help of radar imaging buried beneath Burma’s soil at an undisclosed location.
The aircraft were reportedly shipped to an RAF base in the country late in the war, but were never used due to the development of more apt fighters. With the threat of a Japanese occupation looming, the Allied forces decided to bury the aircraft within their crates, where they sat just a couple weeks later as the use of atomic bombs brought the war to an end — and have remained entombed ever since.
While the current state of the airplanes has yet to be determined, Cundall says their transport crates appear undamaged and that he expects the aircraft themselves to be in “near perfect” condition.
Now, with prohibitive sanctions lifted, a Spitfire training school known as Boultbee Flight Academy is funding an expedition to resurrect the aircraft and return them to England, where Cundall has been promised a stake in them.
Cundall ultimately hopes to restore the aircraft and return them to flying condition, potentially adding to the small group of estimated 35 Spitfires still flying around the world.