City of Oxford
A Multiple award winning, bold, imaginative new scheme is seeking Spitfire enthusiasts
By the Skipper Paul Fowler
I don’t know of anyone who doesn't look skyward when they hear a Spitfire overhead and most pilots would give anything to own one. Sadly unless you inherit a vast fortune or win a Lottery Rollover it will remain a dream for most of us… until now.
When I first came across the MK26 Spitfire I wanted one. Actually I had this idea to build three. But a change in my personal circumstances put the idea on hold. In the meantime I became MD at Enstone Flying Club. During a meeting with Paul Avins, my business coach, we were working on how we could get more people to Enstone. Somehow the conversation got round to how it was possible to have a Spitfire built for about £1.8million but also possible to build a scale replica that flies and handles like the real thing at a fraction of that cost. I told Paul of my dream to have three in a formation display team.
He said, “That’s a fantastic idea. I want in. Tell me what we need to do to make it happen”. We got into some serious discussion and by the end of the session we had the outline of a plan.
The plan was greatly facilitated by the changes in aviation regulations to allow training from unlicensed airfields and payment of instructors for group-owned LAA Permit aircraft.
So here’s the plan
We have put together teams of builders to complete twelve ninety per cent scale Supermarine MK26B Spitfires. Builder-pilots who want to can go on to be trained to fly in formation, becoming an amateur operational squadron based at Enstone, in Oxfordshire. This squadron, which I’m calling ‘City of Oxford’ will include ground crews, military vehicle enthusiasts and living history players, making this a truly unique club, with a regular calendar of events as a focal point for every member.
All twelve aircraft will be the Supermarine MK26B with V6 engines and all the extras, all of them identical for easy maintenance, servicing and parts.
We all know the reasons why most private pilots let their licences lapse and home builders fail to complete their aircraft: too much operating unsupported without any infrastructure or encouragement. This project’s vision is to give pilots an opportunity to use their licence to become part of a display team. There will be training from ex-Red Arrows and current Spitfire pilots and upon gaining their DA Display authorisation, a calendar of events to take part in.
Groups of up to twenty owner-builders and numerous Non owners builders will work together to complete each aircraft, so with twelve aircraft, we have a potential ‘builders’ cooperative’ at Enstone of over 200 people.
By building similar parts together, the builders will become experts together, the least experienced learning from those who are already skilled. No lonely nights or weekends locked away in the garage! With twelve Spitfires available and up to twelve builder-members per airframe, there will be no shortage of opportunities for builders to get involved at the fraction of the cost of taking on a whole aircraft alone. There will be options for investing in any fraction from one-twelfth, through to a twentieth. We are also looking a sponsorship of the aircraft from a select group of companies who would like to be involved.
The Supermarine MK26B kit planes have been designed for novice builders. There will be plenty of space and support from Enstone engineers and local LAA inspectors, so each section of the airframe will be completed expertly. All paperwork will be handled by Enstone experts so all your team has to do is build.
We plan to construct a dedicated squadron hangar to house all twelve aircraft at Enstone. Squadron members will also benefit from our comfortable new clubhouse.
Not a pilot? Not a problem!
Join our "Zero to Hero" training scheme. where we take you from never having flown to flying the Spitfire you help build. How great is that! Enstone flying club has been training pilots for 24 years and has a dedicated team of instructors. Squadron members will be able to start on our basic trainer Cessna 152s and Piper Warriors then convert to tail-wheel in our 1946 J3 Cub, Chipmunk and finally onto their Spitfire (the MK26B is a two-seater with dual controls).
Get involved, Its NOT just for pilots
The squadron is going to need a whole host of skills to make the whole thing into a grand performance. Butchers, bakers, painters, electricians, carpenters, PR and marketers - all of life can get stuck in. At the humblest level, anyone can become a Correspondent member by paying £30 a year and signing up on this website.
The Skippers Vision
love the Spitfire, but my other inspiration for this project is the Sealed Knot in which I was a member for many years. Members recreate the battles of the English Civil War. They do it with great passion and authenticity and the public love it and turn up to the Knot’s musters and major battles in their thousands. Our regiment loved getting the public in armour and learning musket drill and kids tasting 17th Century soldiers’ food, marching around in helmets too big for them. I see the Squadron performing a similar role, doing something that the general public can interact with. I want to see an eight year old in the pilot’s seat, surrounded by Squadron members in period costume, saying, “Yes you could be a pilot one day and yes, you can build your own aeroplane”. How brilliant would that be!
Because the wings can be removed, the aircraft can be transported by road to smaller events, recreating a squadron on the move. The military vehicle enthusiasts’ will provide transport vehicles, tea wagons, fuel bowsers, everything you would expect to see at a dispersed squadron. Re-enactors will provide personnel in period dress to make the ground event come alive whilst the flying part takes place overhead, allowing the general public to get really get in close and perhaps ‘stroke an airframe’ for that truly hands-on experience.
More information ? Not by post only by download
For more information please complete the simple form below, its a double opt in system so we can guarantee to keep the spammers out and you only get the information you have requested. Once you have opted in you will be directed to a page on the web site where you can download the Squadron information.
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