As Patron of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Duke of Cambridge will mark the Flight’s 60th anniversary by attending a reception and air display at Royal Air Force Coningsby on Tuesday 11 July.
Formerly of the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Prince William is Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Coningsby and will meet with veterans who flew and worked on RAF aircraft during World War II.
Formed on 11 July 1957 by former Battle of Britain Hurricane pilot Group Captain Peter Thompson, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight came about out of a desire to honour the RAF’s victory and preserve examples of the aircraft involved.
Group Captain Thompson was a Station Commander at Biggin Hill, Kent when he noted that many of the iconic Battle of Britain planes were falling out of service. In order to preserve a living memorial, he set about collecting a group of Hurricane and Spitfires to create the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The first planes Group Captain Thompson gathered for the ‘Historic Aircraft Flight were three photo-reconnaissance Spitfire PR.Mk 19s – PM631, PS853, and PS915 – and a Hurricane LF363. Marked for retirement and grounding when they were taken over by Group Captain Thompson, three of these aircraft are still in flight after undergoing considerable engine repair. The current Flight has 12 historic aircraft including two Chipmunks used for training, a Lancaster, two Hurricanes, six Spitfires and a Dakota.
These 12 aircraft are maintained to the same exacting standards of modern RAF aircraft, and they have displayed or flown past thousands of events over the years, including State occasions, major commemorations and even small village celebrations.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is seen as a living tribute of the United Kingdom’s respect for Royal Air Force servicemen and women, and especially those who have lost their lives while fighting to preserve the freedom of others.