On Monday, I was fortunate enough to experience sitting in the Pilot’s seat of the static Spitfire. I find it almost impossible to imagine being sat there at my age during the war. For someone of my generation, it is something we are aware of, through learning about our history but we cannot really understand the experiences our ancestors and relatives lived through.
Within the plane, there were so many aspects to understand and control, with minimal space for movement even for someone as small as myself, without taking into account the added flight suit and parachute they wore. The pilots who took off to defend Great Britain during the war were expected to cope with no guidance, alone, reliant on the minimal training they had received.
I was surprised to learn that during the war these planes were also flown by civilian women delivering them from the factories to the bases, all of which was done without any substantial training. Women like Mary Ellis are an inspiration to the girls of today but overall it really shows the courage of all those men and women who were involved in the war effort. (Image © Parnall Foundation)