End of an aviation era: Rebuilt Spitfire takes to the skies from historic Filton aerodrome as BAE calls time on home of Concorde
WWII fighter plane flew again 10 years after it was found in South African junkyardFilton airfield will be closed by owner BAE on New Year's Eve after 100 years
19:35 GMT, 19 December 2012
A newly-restored classic World War II Spitfire has taken to the British skies for the first time since being found in a scrapyard a decade ago.
The iconic Second World War fighter plane has been restored by a businessman who spent 1m building it back up to its former glory after it was rescued from a South African scrapyard.
Yesterday the gleaming Spitfire took off from the soon-to-close Filton aerodrome outside Bristol for the first time since the 1940s.
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Restored classic: The rebuilt Spitfire took to the skies above Bristol yesterday after a painstaking 1m renovation
Flying through British skies for the first time since the 1940s: The restored Spitfire over Bristol
Taking off: The gleaming aircraft attracted large crowds to Filton airfield near Bristol yesterday
FILTON – THE HOME OF THE BRISTOL AEROPLANE COMPANY
Filton has been synonymous with aviation development since before World War One when the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company set up a flying ground there in 1911.
The firm developed the iconic Bristol Fighter and the airfield was used by the Royal Flying Corps during the war.
Between the wars, the firm became Bristol Aeroplane Company and built aero engines, while Hurricane fighters were based at Filton.
During World War Two, BAC expanded massively, producing the Bristol Blenheim and Beaufighter, two medium-range twin-engine bombers.
Spitfires were also based at the grass airfield for a time following heavy bombing of Bristol.
After the war, Bristol continued to develop planes, by now branching out into commercial aviation and extending the concrete runway to cater for larger airliners.
Filton's crowning glory was arguably its role in the development of Concorde, in the 1960s and 1970s, by now under control of the British Aircraft Corporation. Pictured above is the famous supersonic passenger jet visiting the airfield for the last time in 2003.
In 1977 BAE acquired the airfield and it was recently used to produce the Bae 146 small airliner.
The occasion was a poignant one as Filton aerodrome, is to be decommissioned by BAE after more than a century of aviation there, and will close on December 31.
BAE Systems, which said the site was no longer economically viable, is selling the airfield for housing and business development.
Crowds of aviation and history enthusiasts lined the A38 road which borders the airfield to watch the Spitfire take off, while BAE staff watched from beside the runway.
They were also there to see the last visit to the airfield from the Airbus A380 superjumbo, which was developed at Filton and is the world's largest commercial aircraft.
Exeter businessman Martin Phillips, 51, who owns the Spitfire, said the expensive and painstaking restoration project had been worth it.
He said: 'To see her take to the skies today has been extraordinary, and for it to happen at the same time as an A380's final visit to Filton, has made this a sad but historic day.
'I think it's a terrible shame that this famous old airfield is to close.'
Former Rolls-Royce engineer John
Hart, who has worked as chief engineer on the Spitfire restoration for
the last two-and-a-half years, said seeing the Spitfire and the A380
together on the runway that is also still overlooked by Concorde was
'quite a sight' for aviation enthusiasts.
He said: 'It's funny to think the last aeroplane to be put together here at Filton has turned out to be a Spitfire.'
aerodrome, which has one of the longest and widest runways in the
country, witnessed the first test flights of Concorde and was where
American soldiers injured in D-Day were taken to before being treated at
Bristol's Frenchay hospital.
The West Country's aviation industry grew up around the airfield, which developed an international reputation.
Devoted owner: Exeter businessman Martin Philips spent 1m restoring the Spitfire after it was found 10 years ago in a junkyard
Preparing for take-off: Aeroplane enthusiasts lined the runway to watch the WWII fighter plane take to the skies
Painstaking work: The Spitfire has a fully rebuilt Rolls-Royce Merlin engine
Race to finish: Engineers worked long hours to finish the Spitfire's restoration in time for it to fly from Filton yesterday
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vulcan bombers were stationed there, and the last Concorde to fly, Concorde 216, is parked there.
There are plans for an aviation museum on the site, hosting both Concorde and the Bristol Aero Collection of British-designed aeroplane memorabilia from the last century.
The final flights from Filton will take off on Friday, before the aerodrome is decommissioned.
End of an era: The Mark IX Spitfire was originally built in around 1943 and is the last plane to be completed at the airfield
Attention to detail: Here, Steve Atkin of Warbird Colour repaints the Spitfire in its original colours
Stripped back: The Spitfire was the last plane to be built at Filton, the home of British-built Concorde
Quite a paint job: Steve Atkin and Alec Kinane of Warbird Colour raced to finish repainting the classic plane
Historic: The Bristol Boxkite was the first aircraft designed and built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company
Giant of the skies: Maiden flight of the Bristol Brabazon Airliner at Filton in Bristol after World War Two
From four wheels to four engines: Brian Trubshaw & his 'Bristol 603' motor car standing beside a Concorde aircraft at Filton, Bristol. He was director of flight test and chief test pilot of Concorde for British Aerospace
REACH FOR THE SKIES: THE SPLENDOUR OF THE SPITFIRE
Spitfires fly over Duxford, Cambs, in 1939
More than 20,000 Spitfires were built in 24 different marks.
They first flew in the RAF in 1938 and were retired by 1957.
One of the proposed names for the fighter was 'The Shrew'.Its designer RJ Mitchell only lived long enough to see the prototype fly in 1937.
The Mark I fought during the Battle of Britain, reaching speeds of 400mph – while the Mark IX was used over Normandy.
During the mid-1950s, many Mk 22 planes were sold to the Egyptian and Syrian air forces.
Making a propeller to fit a restored plane today costs 55,000.
Fuel costs 500 an hour and the insurance is 50,000 a year.
.VIDEO. A newly restored Supermarine Spitfire taking it's very first, and last, flight out of Bristol Filton Airport
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