Prince Harry flies WWII Spitfire promoting his scholarship programme for veterans

Price Harry took to the skies in a bid to support his scholarship programme for  servicemen wounded in recent wars. He could be seen in a video footage flying a World War II Spitfire and performing a variety of daring manoeuvres. This footage was released on Saturday and shows Prince Harry enjoying his experience in the cockpit of a vintage WWII Spitfire. A co-pilot accompanied him, since this Spitfire is one of the two-man variants that were built.

The Spitfire is considered very significant for Britain’s role in WWII, since it saw a lot of successes in the war, fighting and defending Britain against enemy air assaults.

The aim of the scholarship that Prince Harry has launched is to give flying training to veterans of Britain’s recent wars. As a start for the programme, two wounded soldiers from some of the recent British campaigns took to the skies as part of their training.

One of them is Nathan Forster, who was severely injured by an IED (improvised explosive device) in 2011, while serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan. The other wounded serviceman is Alan Robinson who lost his legs in a road accident in 2011. The programme they are participating in will be the same for the other veterans who will follow them.

The programme will start with some initial flight training in a Tiger Moth. This training will take place at the Boultbee Flight Academy, Goodwood, West Sussex. Then they will get upgraded to a Harvard, This will then lead them to the star of the show, the Spitfire. After mastering the art of ‘spitfiring’, they will be ready to participate in a fly-past, which will take place on the commemoration of the ‘The Battle of Britain’.

The Battle of Britain started in July 1940, when the German ‘Luftwaffe’ launched a campaign in a bid to gain air superiority over the RAF and limit its capabilities. The Luftwaffe started off by first bombing the coastal regions and ports like Portsmouth, hitting docks, shipping convoys and merchant ships. The next step was to target aircraft factories in the south of England. Eventually, the Luftwaffe started bombing targets of political value, like government buildings.

This campaign was essentially the preface to a planned invasion of Britain, which Hitler named ‘Operation Sea Lion’. But this plan was postponed due to the RAF’s fierce response, which nearly brought the Luftwaffe to its knees, and Hitler had to abandon the bombings, The Telegraph reports.

This battle was given its name by Winston Churchill in his speech to the House of Commons, in which he referred to a new stage in the war, saying, ‘The Battle of Britain is about to begin’.

The fly-past by Spitfire planes over southern England will pay respect to those who guarded Britain and defended against the Luftwaffe attacks.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE