I recently retired after more than 40 years in medicine and the last 25years as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Gloucester.
The day to day skills acquired in my job are not immediately transferrable to aircraft building (!), nor are those of my hobbies. The nearest to a relevant background was in my youth when I spent many weekends helping to keep the family car on the road and also converting a Bedford van into a campervan. This included bodywork, riveting and paint spraying.
As long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the Spitfire, it just seemed so “right”. I saw “Reach for the Sky” when it was first released in 1956 and I was hooked , although I never thought that I would ever fly one.
I first started flying in the 1970s in Jersey and Blackpool. I had around 35 hours under my belt when I had to move again through work and sadly allowed the flying to lapse. In 2005 I had the opportunity to fly in a 1944 MkIX Spitfire. It was a wonderful experience but when allowed to take the controls I realised how little I remembered of what I had previously learned about flying. I determined that, should I get another chance to fly in a Spitfire, I would be much better prepared and thus I went on to get my PPL and did a tailwheel conversion.
In the two years prior to retirement there were frequent discussions with Management (aka my wife Sue) about what I should do, as we agreed that going straight from a full time busy job to watching the paint dry would not be ideal. A number of avenues were explored without success and there is a definite limit to how much time can be spent “in the shed”.
I had seen adverts for the Spitfire kits in the flying magazines and thought “if only”. Then I read an article about Paul’s vision. The timing was perfect, providing an opportunity to build and fly a Spitfire when I had the time to commit to it. This project provides me with an opportunity to work with a team of fellow enthusiasts and to forge new friendships. By bringing our different skills and developing new ones we will create a beautiful aeroplane.
Building the aeroplane will be a big challenge as will learning to fly it. However, the prospect of actually flying a Spitfire in the, hopefully, not too distant future is really exciting. It has been fascinating to see the very positive reactions of so many people when they have heard about the project. There is no doubt that the Spitfire continues to attract enthusiastic attention.