Ray Roberts took to the skies in a spitfire at the age of 100
Ray Roberts used a walking aid on the runway at Biggin Hill yesterday to take his place in the legendary fighter plane.
The veteran was among several VIPs at the Kent airport which had arranged the flight to kick off a year of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the ex-RAF base.
Mr Roberts, from Margate, Kent, joined the RAF in 1940 and trained as a pilot.
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He was injured the same year when his parachute failed to fully open after he bailed out of a Spitfire.
He became a member of the Caterpillar Club, a group of servicemen and women who have jumped from a stricken aircraft and survived to tell the tale.
Forced by his injuries to quit as a fighter pilot, in 1941 he joined the Air Transport Auxiliary.
The former RAF pilot was marking the centenary of Biggin Hill
He spent the rest of the Second World War delivering aircraft to service units from the factory.
He is just amazed to be given the opportunity
Captain Peter Kynsey
As the Spitfire, flown by Captain Peter Kynsey, roared in the skies above Kent and London, Mr Roberts’ daughter Lyndi said: “He is just amazed to be given the opportunity.
“He has been going through his old logbooks.
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“Since he found out he was going to be flown in a Spitfire, he kept saying he cannot wait to get up and see the earth, looking down. He said it takes him back.”
Celebrating 80 years since the first Spitfire flight Sat, March 5, 2016
Celebrating 80 years since the first Spitfire flight.
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Celebrating 80 years since the first Spitfire flight in 1936
Best known for its role in the Battle of Britain, Biggin Hill served as one of the vital command bases for the Hurricanes and Spitfires of RAF Fighter Command protecting the Southeast of England.
Later it accepted civil flights alongside its role as a rapid reaction station.
After RAF operations ended there it gradually grew as an international gateway airport for business, corporate and general aviation.
The veteran was among several VIPs at the Kent airport which was kicking of a year of celebration
Biggin Hill managing director Will Curtis told guests that the Second World War was won, in part, at the airport.
“We are aware that Biggin Hill sat at the very tipping point of the Second World War,” he said.
“I am naturally proud of that legacy and we will do our very best to ensure that it is properly preserved for future generations.
“I am also acutely aware that today Biggin Hill plays an important part in London’s future.”
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