A restored World War II Supermarine Spitfire took off from an English aerodrome on Monday. It began the first leg of a planned 27,000-mile trip around the world.
Pilots Steve Brooks and Matt Jones hope to circle the Earth in about four months with stops in 30 countries. The two pilots will take turns flying the single-seat MK IX Spitfire. While one operates the Spitfire, the other will follow in a support plane. It will take about 90 seat changes to complete the trip.
This particular fighter plane was originally built in 1943. The lightweight planes were critical in helping defeat the German Air Force in the Battle of Britain. As a result of that victory, the Spitfire became an icon of World War II. This plane has been stripped of most of its military markings, leaving only gleaming aluminum sheathing and a few identifying decals.
Brooks said Monday that his biggest worry about the round-the-world flight is the weather, adding that “landing is always the tricky part.” The plane’s first stop will be Scotland before it heads west to Iceland, Greenland, and North America.
This trip, once completed, will be the first time a Spitfire has circumnavigated the globe.
(A restored MK IX Spitfire takes off from Goodwood Aerodrome in Goodwood, England, on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Pilots Steve Brooks and Matt Jones hope to circle the world in about four months, with stops in 30 countries. AP Photo)