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Author Topic: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.  (Read 3968 times)

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Offline davidk

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2019, 09:27:22 PM »
Continuing Roger's exploits... below.  Frank... that's just enough aileron in that first roll... but how much is in that 2nd?

Hi guys,
We’ve just stopped for two overnights in Clovelly in Devon and I have had a moment to capture two minutes of the Spitfire flight.  There’s much more to come but this is one of the highlight moments…

Roger

Victory Roll Over Beachy Head:

  https://www.dropbox.com/s/edxduilqb5zsd94/Victory%20Roll%20over%20Beachy%20Head.mov?dl=0=

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2019, 09:42:52 AM »
If you don't mind getting the train to Kent on the day of the flight, we could all stay at my Mums!?  Some of us may need to sleep on the floor!?  ;D

SHORTBREAD!!

Seriously though Roger, how does one get to do this?  You got the fly the thing?  Do my MAAC wings provide me enough clearance to do the same?



Hi Chris and Simon's Mum,

To answer your question Chris: My understanding is, that part of the deal includes a client taking control of the aeroplane. Hence their ad "Fly-A-Spitfire".  How much and to what degree, depends on the individual I guess?  The pilot had a chat with me as we walked out to the aeroplane. He asked if I had any previous flying experience and we discussed that.  Then there is the in-flight test - ‘Roger, please take hold of the control column with your thumb and your first two fingers" raise the nose of the aeroplane 2 degrees (1,000 ft / min)’.  Now lower the nose 2 degrees. Now please keep the wings level. Please bank right keeping the nose just below the horizon. Now left bank etc.  Very polite, says 'please' all the time. It’s very nice.   

If the pilot is comfortable with your efforts, there may be an invitation to fly - in my case - over the fields of Kent, to the coast (approx 10-12 min).  The same invitation back again to Biggin Hill, after the pilot does lots of squiggly bits over the channel.  Total hands-on approximately 20 minutes, flying A FLIPPING SPITFIRE! (sorry about that)

So - taking control consists of the test - climbing, diving (gently) banking left an right as steeply as you feel comfortable with.  You will see from my video when it’s completed, my banks started out quite shallow and increased as the flight progressed, my confidence grew and I realized I wasn't going to fall out of the aeroplane when it leaned over that much.  I have flown a 150 before but hey, THIS WAS A FLIPPING SPITFIRE! (sorry).  She was so graceful and light on the controls (note - talking hold of the control column with thumb and first two fingers).  It was a sheer joy. An experience like no other.  The elixir of life.  The ... well you get the idea. 

Being an RC pilot Chris, you have more sense and understanding of flight dynamics than the average joe.  I’m sure you’d have no problem.  Besides, as with our club instructors, they make you fly two mistakes high.  No different here, except ITS A REAL FLIPPING SPITFIRE!

Honestly, I’m still high and I've never taken drugs in my life.  I go to sleep at night reliving it.  I think of it during the day.  I can’t believe it actually happened and I’m so grateful to Biggin Hill for the opportunity.  They are real pros and there is a lot of effort that goes into a slick operation like that. They have 14 airworthy Spitfires ( they say, the most in one place anywhere in the world). Four they own, including two, 2 seat converted MkIX's.  T9 I think they call them but that doesn't sound as cool, so I prefer to say 2 seat MkIX's :-)   The rest of the Spitfires, they are restoring for clients, both private and institutional. Even the RAF has one of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spits there for scheduled maintenance!  The hangar tour, walking among these wonderful machines, is a treat in itself.  BTW, they also have a Hurricane and an Me109 - both flying examples!  The hangar tour guide (Dell) was fantastic.  Answered every question. Added additional nuggets of information and was happy to take as long as it takes.  In my case, we were over an hour walking, talking, marveling at all the candy in the shop.   And to risk these wonderful machines, these legends of the sky, so that ordinary blokes like us can have a go...well, it is nothing short of brilliant. And it can't last forever?  Merlins are the achilles heal of WWII aeroplanes. They are still digging them out of 30 foot deep holes in Kent fields but those examples can't be of much practical use?  A fully functioning Merlin cost on average, £850,000.  Consider the whole aeroplane cost £7,000 to manufacture in 1940.

COST?:  I purchased the 45 min flight to Beachy Head. £3,750.  There is a 30 min flight over the fields of Kent and Churchill's home Chartwell and that costs £2,750.  Then there's the 'Biggie', £4,750 to and from Dover, which is a 60 minute duration.  Don, my pilot, was pleased I had chosen Beachy Head, as he rates it as his favorite.  Honestly, 45 minutes (about 35 minutes flight time after taxing/take-off/landing and other such rudimentary essentials), made a very complete experience in my opinion.

This is certainly a once in a lifetime experience and if any of you guys are serious, I’d say go for it!  You only live once. Do a paper route or sell lemonade.  You won't regret it.  The money is forgotten the moment you walk through that door and lost in the mists of time the second you lay eyes on and climb into that REAL, FLIPPING SPITFIRE!!!   

I’ll be happy to assist anyone, in anyway I can based on my own experience.

Thanks for all the fun comments guys, they made great reading.  BTW, I had no idea until yesterday that Frank had posted my email on the club site, so I apologize for being absent for so long with my comment.

Cheers,
Roger
'Roger That...'

Offline davidk

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2019, 10:05:24 AM »
Did you get to keep the flight suit???

Offline Richard_RC_Guy

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2019, 10:13:49 AM »
Hi Roger:

Thanks for sharing your super detailed explanation this Wed. morning (Oct 2). I get a sense of your excitement during your Spitfire flying adventure.

Certainly a “once in a lifetime” event.

I was going to suggest seeking professional help at “Spitfires Anonymous” to cure your post Spitfire flying syndrome but I think you’re far beyond help at this point - there is no cure as the memory will always be with you (what a lucky guy!)

Cheers,

Richard B.

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2019, 10:29:48 AM »
No. I guess it would be too much bother to keep a huge inventory of suits.  BTW, they are American flight suits. 
My USAF friend noted that with some pride..."Well we might not have made the Spitfire but those are American flight suits!"
Yeah Uncle Sam!

Below are photos of a couple of neat souvenirs of the day...
'Roger That...'

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2019, 10:39:46 AM »
I am indeed a lucky guy Richard. No doubt about it. A high, lucky guy!  :)
'Roger That...'

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2019, 11:03:44 AM »
By the way, from a technical standpoint, I was interested to hear that these few MkIX's were converted to T9's at the end of the war, to train pilots.   I know, I  hear you saying 'Hello!  The war is over, NOW you want to train pilots in a 2 seat aeroplane?'  However, there were so many surplus Spits around that were being sold to other nation's airforces in peacetime, it helped the sale if there were legit trainers. 

To accomplish the conversion, the 85 gallon fuel tank infront of the cockpit was removed and made 18" smaller.  The cockpit was moved 18" forward and the second fully equipped cockpit was added aft of the first.  Then the guns and ammo bays were removed from each wing and 4 additional fuel tanks added in the space.  That made 5 tanks in all and back up to 85 gallon capacity.
'Roger That...'

Offline BJROB

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2019, 09:59:45 PM »
Hi Roger
Is that Canadian emblem forward the first cockpit put on just for you?
Or is this one of our Canadian 🇨🇦 planes repurposed? 😀
My Work??? is so secret....
I Don't even Know what I'm Doing!!!

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2019, 11:10:47 PM »

Hi BJ,
A prominent Canadian Architect, Sidney Bregman, was a 20yr old pilot in the RCAF 441 squadron, attached to the RAF.  In 1944 when MJ627 (the aeroplane I flew in last week) was only 2 days into service,  Sid shot down an Me109 over Arnhem, Holland. 
Later he got back to Canada after the war ended, Sid hung up his flying goggles forever and went to the U of T to train to be an architect.  In the year 2000, when in his 80's he saw a photo of a 2 seat Spitfire in the English FlyPast magazine.  The registration# was MJ627.  He realized that his old steed has survived the war, just as he had.  He made arrangements to fly to England to see the aeroplane again but before he left, he asked me if I'd make two cut-vinyl roundels with a red maple leaf in the centre, to the specs that he gave me.  He said Canadian pilots applied these to the side of the fuselage, beneath and slightly forward of the cockpit.  He'd noticed that his old Spitfire, was no longer sporting those roundels.  So he took them with him when he went to see the plane in 2002 and the owner at the time, had them applied as per Sid's request.

MJ627 was later sold to Biggin Hill Heritage Hangars. The invasion stripes were re-applied on top of the wings and fuselage as was the case in 1944 when it served in Belgium at an advance RCAR/RAF airfield.  The roundels were left in-place and remain to this day. 

On Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar's  'Fly a Spitfire' website, MJ627 - 9GQ 's history is told as reproduced below.  I have attached a couple of Sid Bregman's personal photos of himself and MJ627 9GQ, that he asked me to scan from his wartime collection of 266 black & white prints back in 2002. 

Sid passed away in 2014 at a great age.


THE STORY OF
MJ627
Wartime Deployment
MJ627 was built at Castle Bromwich in 1943 as an LF MK IXc and entered service with 441 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) serving with the RAF. MJ627’s first operational sortie was flown on 25th September 1944 from advanced landing ground B70 in Belgium. In service, MJ627 carried the Squadron code letters of ‘9G’ and was painted with invasion stripes as it is flown today. On 27th September 1944, only two days after entering service, MJ627 destroyed a Messerschmitt Me 109 over Arnhem whilst flown by P/O Sidney Bregman.
 
Sid Bregman’s personal account of the ‘kill’ is produced below:
“On September 27, 1944, we were patrolling the area around Arnhem, at about two in the afternoon, as a squadron. We all had special long-range tanks on the underside of our aircraft, which gave us some additional range, because we were stationed at Antwerp at the time. Normal range was 80 to 90 minutes at the most. Those tanks gave us an extra hour.
 
In any case, while we were patrolling over Arnhem, my engine stopped. Obviously the tank had fallen off, so I switched immediately. That particular manoeuvre put me in a position somewhat astern of the rest of the squadron, although my wingman was still with me.
 
As I looked over my shoulder, lo and behold, there was an Me 109 alone, with me now very manoeuvrable because I didn’t have that tank. It took about two or three seconds for me to get in line, and another second or two after that I hit the 109.
 
That was the end of it – it only took 11 shells altogether. Just a quick burst and it went down immediately. Because I’d lost the tank, I got permission from the squadron leader to head back to Antwerp. My kill was confirmed later by Don Kimball. Apparently, the 109 crashed into the Rhine at Arnhem. We had done a lot of air-to-ground, but that was my first German aircraft. ”
 
Beyond its kill, MJ627 has a well-documented wartime history with numerous ground attack, bomber escort and patrol missions being recorded as well as gun camera footage of aerial combat.
 
In December 1944, 441 Squadron was posted to the Orkneys and on 9th March 1945, MJ627 was involved in an off airfield forced landing following engine problems. The accident was classified as ‘beyond repair on site’ being subsequently transported to Hamble, where work was completed in 1946. Following repair, MJ627 was placed in storage with a total of 245.05 airframe hours.
 
After the war
In July 1950, MJ627 was sold to Vickers Armstrong Ltd and converted to two seat MK IX(T) configuration against an order from the Irish Air Corps (IAC). Now designated ‘158’, the aircraft was delivered to the IAC on 5th June 1951, serving with ‘A’ Flight Fighter Squadron. In April 1960, ‘158’ was withdrawn from service with a total of 1002 flying hours and offered for tender in an ‘as is’ condition. MJ627 then passed through various ownerships until being purchased by Mr Maurice Bayliss in 1976. MJ627 then underwent an extended restoration, with the first post restoration flight taking place at Coventry Airport in November 1993, exactly 50 years after its first flight from Castle Bromwich less than 20 miles away.
 
MJ627 remained in the Bayliss Family ownership until 2014, when it was sold to Richard Verrall. Ownership was subsequently transferred to Warbird Experiences Limited at Biggin Hill, where it operates today.
 
Over 70 years and 1500 flying hours after being built, Spitfire MJ627 continues to grace the skies of southern England in memory of the ‘Few’.
'Roger That...'

Offline davidk

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2019, 11:37:45 PM »
This adventure just keeps getting better.  That's one of the best stories I've ever heard.  Thanks for asking that question BJ... this is excellent.

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2019, 07:16:44 AM »
This adventure just keeps getting better.  That's one of the best stories I've ever heard.  Thanks for asking that question BJ... this is excellent.

Anyone know their Spitfire Mk’s?  I have just noticed  that the fin on the first B&W photo of 9GQ, is different from the fin on the 9GQ  photos of today? 
Sid and his squadron flew Spitfires and early Mustang 3’s in England before moving to France and Belgium after D-Day.  I see the same squadron markings on all these aircraft in his photos, suggesting that 9GQ would have moved from aeroplane to aeroplane with Sid, rather like our modern car license plates of today? (Anyone know this to be the case?) As records show that MJ627 started service life in Belgium, I conclude that the first B&W photo of 9GQ, was an earlier steed when RCAF 411 squadron was still in England?   The later B&W photos of Sid posing by his Spitfire, are of the surviving 9GQ MJ627, as it is a MkIX and has invasion stripes (under the wings).  Top stripes were removed after the invasion so that aircraft parked on the ground in French and Belgian fields, were camouflaged from above.
'Roger That...'

Offline electroflyer

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2019, 01:20:24 PM »
  Hey Roger,
  What a great story this aircraft has.
  The Mk IX Spitfires from what I understand were basically MkV's with an updated engine to deal with the powerful FW190's they (the Allies) were now encountering. Hence the rounded rudder. There was also an updated rudder that was incorporated into production Mk IX's from the factory that had the pointed style. It stands to reason that when MJ627 was damaged and placed into storage, the resurrected aircraft was reconstructed with other MkIX parts and reflown in RAF or just sold to the new owners. Regardless, it acquired a new look based on surplus parts available.
 Personally, I always preferred the rounded tail. 
     Glenn
 

Offline RogMason

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2019, 05:23:15 PM »
Hi Glenn,
Sounds feasible to me.  Attached are two photos of MJ627 when it was converted to a MkIX (T) by Vickers Armstrong in July 1950. It was converted as a result of the Irish Air Corps ordering a MkIX (T) and was renumbered 158. It was retired from service in 1960 with 1,005 flying hrs and was sold to Maurice Bayliss who restored it and resold it in 2014 to Richard Verrall of Warbird Experiences / Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. 

MJ627 has completed over 1,500 flying hrs since 1943.  After only 48 of those 1,500 hours, Sid Bregman shot down the Me109.

Another image is Sid in MJ627 in 2002
'Roger That...'

Offline SeeFernando

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Re: "Roger That" flies a real Spitfire.
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2019, 07:51:03 PM »
Wow!  This is inspirational!

Thanks Roger, bucket, err barrel list updated!
-Chris