Undoubtedly, there are many pilots, commercial and private, who envy 81-year-old Brian Lockwood. He got to fly a Spitfire, that legendary fighter of Battle of Britain fame.
Lockwood, a resident of Poole, England recently flew a Mark 1X with the assistance of Boultbee Flight Academy at Goodwood in West Sussex. He didn’t need help during the 30-minute flight; Boultbee helped in arranging the flight. Lockwood swore in 1940, after a German ME 109 riddled his school playground with machine gun fire, that he would join the fight.
He was a child when the Second World War ended, so by the time he was of age in the 1950s the Spitfire was obsolete, replaced by jet engine aircraft. At the conclusion of training with the University of London Air Squadron, he enlisted in the RAF on a short service contract and received his wings after qualifying on the Harvard II trainer airplane.
But, after being in a car accident that took the lives of squadron members, Lockwood’s injuries forced him to leave the service.
Fortuitously, the Spitfire’s flight location took him over Ardingly College, his old school. Staff and pupils gathered outside to see him fly above the chapel and execute a victory roll, Bournemouth Echo reported.
There were 900 children jumping and cheering as he flew over the college. His wife and son also watched. Before the victory roll maneuver, he thought of himself as an 80-year-old who had no business being up there. Nevertheless, he had a great time.
It has been his life-long desire to fly the fighter. The only thing missing was the Luftwaffe and live ammunition, he said. The plane was demanding, the cockpit is small, but he familiarized himself quickly. And the weather couldn’t have been better.