NHS Spitfire to fly over St Albans hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:59 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:59 16 July 2020

The Aircraft Restoration Company's 'Thank U NHS' Spitfire in flight. The aircraft is due to fly over St Albans City Hospital on Saturday, July 18. Picture: George Lewis Romain

The Aircraft Restoration Company's 'Thank U NHS' Spitfire in flight. The aircraft is due to fly over St Albans City Hospital on Saturday, July 18. Picture: George Lewis Romain

© George Romain, All Rights Reserved

The iconic ‘Thank U NHS’ Spitfire is scheduled to fly over St Albans this weekend.

The 'Thank You NHS' Spitfire flying over the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City earlier this month. Picture: John DaviesThe 'Thank You NHS' Spitfire flying over the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City earlier this month. Picture: John Davies

Residents in St Albans will be able to see the historic aircraft in the sky above the city’s hospital on Saturday, July 18.

This follows a recent flight which saw the World War Two plane thrill spectators at the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City and at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

The special ‘NHS’ Spitfire will take off from IWM Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire around 2.25pm on Saturday.

With ‘Thank U NHS’ painted under its wings, the family-owned Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo) Spitfire will pass over St Albans City Hospital at around 2.35pm.

The route of the Aircraft Restoration Company's NHS Spitfire on Saturday, July 18, with the flight taking the historic plane over St Albans around 2.35pm. Picture: Aircraft Restoration CompanyThe route of the Aircraft Restoration Company's NHS Spitfire on Saturday, July 18, with the flight taking the historic plane over St Albans around 2.35pm. Picture: Aircraft Restoration Company

Flown by pilot John Romain, the blue Spitfire PL983 – nicknamed ‘L’ – will fly over Hemel Hempstead Hospital at 2.40pm.

Its route will then take it to Stoke Mandeville Hospital at 2.45pm and Milton Keynes University Hospital at 2.50pm, before landing at the Old Warden airfield in Bedfordshire at 3pm.

Route times are estimates and subject to change during flight.

This Spitfire was specifically built and used for photo reconnaissance during the war, carrying cameras instead of weapons.

You can have your name painted on the Aircraft Restoration Company's NHS Spitfire.You can have your name painted on the Aircraft Restoration Company's NHS Spitfire.

It was also flown and air-raced by the famous female ATA pilot Lettice Curtis.

Members of the public are being offered a unique opportunity to nominate one of 80,000 loved ones whose names are being handwritten onto the Spitfire as it takes flight to raise funds for NHS Charities Together.

ARCo founder and director John Romain said: “The response to our initial flight over the last 8pm #clapforourcarers Thursday was incredibly humbling, with hundreds of people from the local community sharing how wonderful it was to not only see the Spitfire, but also to read the message emblazoned across its wings.

“After such positive reaction we decided to leave the message painted on the Spitfire for the rest of the flying season, but also began thinking of ways we could use it to help give something back to the NHS staff who have been our heroes throughout this difficult time.

“This is where the idea to hand write 80,000 names onto the aircraft to raise money for the NHS Charities Together began.”

The 80,000 names will be nominated by the public as a way of thanking one another for the support they received through the COVID-19 pandemic.

From a kind neighbour or supportive family member to an inspirational frontline worker or community hero, the public can now thank them with this special gesture.

In return for their donation, their nominated name will be one of the 80,000 names to be written on the Spitfire.

As the names are added, the UK will be able to watch this extraordinary visual spectacle unfold.

The #NHSSpitfire fundraising page JustGiving.com/nhsspitfire is now open.

To submit a name, you simply need to donate a minimum of £10 via the campaign’s JustGiving page.

You will then need to state your hero’s name and reason for nominating them.

You can view progress updates via the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Instagram and Facebook @aircraftrestorationcompany and website www.aircraftrestorationcompany.com

As well as the Spitfire’s usual operations around its home base of IWM Duxford Airfield, specifically planned routes will fly past communities and hospitals around mainland UK, such as Saturday’s St Albans City Hospital flypast.

Flight routes will be updated throughout the duration of the donation window, which will close on Sunday, September 20, 2020 to align with the Spitfire closing the show at the IWM Duxford’s Battle of Britain Air Show.


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