Pilot Dies in Crash of World War II-Era Spitfire

Flights of wartime aircraft are scheduled in England to mark upcoming anniversary of D-Day
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2024 3:20 PM CDT
Pilot Dies in Crash of World War II-era Spitfire
Jack Hemmings, 102, flies a Spitfire after taking off from London Biggin Hill, England, in February.   (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A World War II-era Spitfire fighter plane crashed near a British air force base in eastern England on Saturday, killing the pilot, the UK defense ministry said. The ministry confirmed the death of a Royal Air Force pilot "in a tragic accident" near RAF Coningsby, an airbase. There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, the AP reports. The base about 150 miles north of London is home both to modern fighter jets and to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a collection of wartime fighter and bomber aircraft that take part in air shows and memorial displays that includes the plane that crashed, per the BBC.

Several of the planes had been due to perform a flying display Saturday at the nearby Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center. The crash happened days before wartime aircraft are to take to the skies to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy, per the AP. More than 20,000 Spitfires were built in the 1930s and '40s, and the deft, maneuverable plane played a key role in defending the UK from attacks by Germany's Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Only a few dozen airworthy Spitfires remain, including six that belong to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Regular RAF crews fly them, per the BBC.

(More England stories.)

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