Oxford

New Oxford Spitfire squadron being built for 2012

Members of Enstone Flying Club building the first of 12 Mk 26B Spitfires
Image caption A total of 20 volunteers are constructing the first of the 12 Spitfires

An Oxfordshire flying club is building a new squadron of 12 Spitfires for the new year.

Work has already started on one of the Supermarine Mk 26B Spitfires at Enstone Flying Club, near Chipping Norton.

When completed, each aircraft will weigh 810kg (1,782lb) and will be a 90% scale version of an original three-tonne Spitfire.

Manager of the project, Paul Fowler, 50, said the aim was to "keep the Spitfire legend alive forever".

Twenty volunteers are constructing the first Spitfire, but more volunteers are needed to build the following 11.

'British icon'

It is hoped the new City of Oxford squadron, as it will be known, will be completed by December 2012.

As well as pilots it will include ground crews, engineers, and aeroplane and military vehicle enthusiasts.

Mr Fowler, who has been a pilot for 34 years, said: "We want to hold events, where the aircraft will fly in displays and be the focal point, but we also want to build up a picture of the heyday of the Spitfire, with people dressed up in 1940s gear for example.

"Spitfires are the ultimate aircraft, a British icon - who wouldn't want to say they'd helped build one?"

Mr Fowler said he first became "fascinated" by flight at the age of eight when he jumped off the roof of his parents' shed, with a pair of cardboard wings strapped to his back.

'Hands-on experience'

"I wasn't very aerodynamic, but it certainly made me want to become a pilot," he said.

"I came up with the idea of the Spitfire club as a way of getting pilots to keep flying - I've found over the years that many of them give up once the excitement of learning to fly evaporates."

He added that he also wanted to make aeroplanes more "accessible" to enthusiasts.

"I want to give them some hands-on experience, because having met many through the flying club they almost seem afraid to even touch aeroplanes," he said.

"I want to create a huge community which revolves around a shared love of aircraft."

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