Ninety-seven-year-old former RAF pilot fulfils Spitfire ambition
Posted: 10th July 2018
A few days before the RAF centenary celebrations in London, a 97-year-old former RAF pilot from Kent fulfilled a lifelong ambition at Goodwood Aerodrome, when taking the controls of a Spitfire in the skies over the south coast.
Colin Bell was invited to the Boultbee Flight Academy at Goodwood last week for the half-hour dream flight, and afterwards he was met by The Duke of Richmond, who spoke to him about his experience. “I have had this fantastic experience at Goodwood, in flying a Spitfire,” said Bell. “It’s something I have always wanted to do and today was the culmination of that ambition. It has been a fantastic experience and the organisation here is unsurpassed.”
Colin served in WWII on operations as a Mosquito Bomber Pilot. Born in 1921, he joined the Royal Air Force towards the end of 1940. Following Pearl Harbour, he was retained by the American Army Air Corps as an advanced single-engine flying instructor responsible for training American and British Cadets in a Harvard.
On his return to the UK in 1943, he converted to twin-engine Mosquito Bombers and joined 608 Squadron (Pathfinder Group) based at Downham Market in Norfolk. During his tour of operations, he carried out 50 bombing raids over Germany.
He ended his full-time RAF service in 1946 carrying Diplomatic mail to Embassies situated in various parts of Europe and Africa. After the war, he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. He was made a Freeman of the City of London on 13th January 1987 and of the District of Huntingdonshire on 17th August 2013.
Having driven himself to Goodwood, Bell remarked on his flight; “I must admit that I left it to Chris [Hadlow, Boultbee Spitfire pilot] to do the aerobatics, but I did do some flying around to the best of my ability. Chris did a ‘roll off the top,’ a ‘barrel roll’ and a ‘slow roll.’ The Spitfire is a lighter aircraft than the Mosquito, but from the point of view of manoeuvrability, I don’t think there is much to choose between the two. But it was an absolute privilege to be in a Spitfire today.”
For further information on the Goodwood Aerodrome, please visit Goodwood.com
About Goodwood Aerodrome
Goodwood Aerodrome was originally created to assist the War effort. Known as RAF Westhampnett, the busy fighter station was active from July 1940 as a Battle of Britain airfield, through to May 1946.
Now home to some 100 aircraft, ranging from vintage Warbirds to modern rotary and fixed wing aircraft, Goodwood Aerodrome is known for its picturesque setting and is popular with visiting pilots. The Goodwood Flying School provides tuition for those learning to fly, including the PPL, LAPL and FI student, as well as one-off flight experiences to suit a variety of budgets.
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