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Flypast honours Spitfire maiden flight

Classic aircraft marks 70 years

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Five Spitfires yesterday took off from Southampton International Airport - formerly Eastleigh airfield - to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spit's maiden flight, the BBC reports.

The first ever Spitfire to take to the air did so on 5 March, 1936, at 1630 GMT, and more than 20,000 of the aircraft were subsequently built at the nearby Supermarine factory in Woolston.

Thousands turned out to watch the circuit, taking in the factory site and Southampton Water - among them Dr Gordon Mitchell, the son of Spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell.

Aboard a two-seater example for the flypast was 93-year-old Alex Henshaw, the chief test pilot during the war. He told the Beeb: "For me this is really full circle as I first flew the Spitfire from Eastleigh on my birthday in November 1939 and this is the last time I will go up in one, so it's very nostalgic." ®

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