THE Longest Day dawned bright in Wisborough Green, as 30 pilots got together and raised more than £1,000 for charity.
‘Dawn Patrol’ was an idea hatched by Brian Smith, whose Spitfire simulator occupies one half of a barn, decked out as a second world war crew room at Wheelers Farm in Wisborough Green.
Brian said: “Pilots began to assemble for a Dawn Patrol exercise in the Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX parked up under a blister hanger at RAF West Malling in Kent.
“The rising sun glinted on the iconic aircraft’s sleek shape, highlighting the initials JE-J adorning its flank.
“EN398 cleared for take off as the roar of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine filled the air.
“Thirty pilots ‘flew’ 30 sectors, visiting as many former RAF stations that took part in the Battle of Britain.”
On the day, each participant made a donation of £30 to the RAF Benevolent Fund, Brian’s chosen charity.
The first sector, from West Malling to the famous Biggin Hill and on to North Weald in Essex, was flown by former RAF jet fighter pilot, Jeremy Mudford of Plaistow.
The exercise continued, landing at various airfields in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and as far west as RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
Brian added: “The return course led to Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, RAF Westhampnett, Goodwood these days, Shoreham and out to Manston before returning, in the late afternoon, to West Malling once again.
“Refreshments were served all day in the ‘NAAFI’ tent and in the evening everyone repaired to the ‘officers’ mess’ – or more commonly known around the village as The Cricketers Arms, for a ladies’ night and a splendid dinner.
“By the end of the day, £1,268 was raised for our charity.”
This was the first project of its kind for the Spitfire Experience – a full-scale replica cockpit simulator, the brainchild of Brian, which has been entertaining its customers for more than a year now, raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Full details may be obtained by contacting Brian on 01403 700346 or by emailing him on firstname.lastname@example.org