England

Biggin Hill centenary: Spitfire flight for 100-year-old

  • 13 February 2017
  • From the section England
Ray Roberts after landing in a Spitfire at the launch of the celebrations the mark the centenary of Biggin Hill airport Image copyright Gareth Fuller
Image caption Ray Roberts had to bail out of a Spitfire during World War Two

A 100-year-old former RAF pilot has flown in a Spitfire to mark the centenary of a famous wartime airbase.

Ray Roberts, from Margate, Kent, was a passenger in the twin-seat aircraft as part of the celebrations at Biggin Hill Airport.

The airport played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain when it served as one of the principal fighter bases.

Fellow centenarians Lily Osborne and Trudy Baxter flew behind in a Learjet 75 as part of the celebrations.

Parachute failed

Mr Roberts, who was flown by Captain Peter Kynsey, joined the RAF in 1940.

He trained as a pilot before being injured that year when his parachute failed to fully open after he bailed out of a Spitfire.

In 1941 he joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and spent the remainder of World War Two delivering aircraft to service units.

Mr Roberts' daughter, Lyndi Roberts, said: "He is just amazed to be given the opportunity."

Image copyright Gareth Fuller
Image caption Ray Roberts used a walking aid on the runway to take his seat in the Spitfire
Image copyright Gareth Fuller
Image caption Fellow centenarians Lily Osborne and Trudy Baxter flew behind in a Learjet 75

Biggin Hill served as one of the vital command bases for the Hurricanes and Spitfires of RAF Fighter Command.

In the 1950s it began accepting civil flights alongside its role as a rapid reaction station.

Biggin Hill managing director Will Curtis told guests at the centenary celebrations: "We are aware that Biggin Hill sat at the very tipping point of the Second World War."

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