Today the 5th March 2011 is the 75th Anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire which first took to the air at 15.00hrs at Eastleigh/Southampton Airport.
To mark this occasion a Spitfire has flown in tribute from the airport today flying a couple of circuits over Southampton before continuing down Southampton water and returning to the airfield.
For some time now I've been planning to visit and pay my respects at R.J Mitchell's grave in Southampton and also visit the site of his former home. For those who dont know RJ MItchell was the designer of the Spitfire amongst many other great achievements but rather than give the history here I'll attach a wikapedia link for you. R. J. Mitchell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So today I visited to also combine seeing the fly past. The site of his grave is in the Cemetery just over the motorway at the Southern end of the Eastleigh/Southampton airport. So Knowing that the Spitfire tribute flight would be taking off and landing there, I thought what better place to watch the display than stood by the side of his grave. As it turned out several other people had the same idea.
Although I couldn't see the take off, the sound of the fully gunned Merlin engine at full pelt racing along the runway was as impressive as it was emotional. Then there it was appearing low in the sky to fly over the cemetary in tribute to RJ and past his grave not once but as soon as it passed by it banked sharply, turning around and returned for another low pass over RJ's grave and me stood by. I even thought I detected a slight wing wiggle salute toward his grave as it passed.
It was then off for a low 20 minute pass over Southampton then out along the water front before returning once again very low over the cemetery wheels down to land. Following this excitment and taking a few pictures I then drove down to his former home.
So on to the pictures.
I thought I'd start this with a bit on his life, first picture as a life size wax work model of RJ at the Tangmere Aero Museum, He is depicted sat at his desk at the Supermarine Factory in Woolston Southampton.
Then here is a full sized model of the first Spitfire that flew today 75 years ago again the Tangmere Museum
RJ Mitchells original and much cherished shot gun on display at Tangmere Museum.
RJ Mitchell's former home in Southampton, he lived here during his most productive designing period when he produced amongst others the Spitfire. This is also the place where he retired due to ill health and died on 11th June 1937.
RJ Mitchell's grave to the South of the runway where the Spitfire first flew and I couldn't think of a more appropriate spot for the modest hero to rest.
(more pictures to follow)