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Link with the past as Battle of Britain Flight comes to the Island 18 April 2007

TT fans will be given a first hand reminder of the debt owed by the British Isles to its World War 2 aircraft, pilots and aircrew when a unique attraction takes to the skies over Douglas.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, featuring a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane will give a display over Douglas Bay from 1pm on Saturday May 26th. The aircraft fly in from Blackpool and the performance lasts for 15-20 minutes before they depart for another engagement in Lancashire.

The venture is a joint initiative between The Manx Aviation and Military Museum at Ronaldsway and the Department of Tourism and Leisure. Original approach came from the Museum officials who were successful in making a bid to secure the Flight’s services. When the Department came on board it was agreed the event would be an ideal way of heralding the start of TT fortnight.

One of the organisers, Andy Arnold, said:

‘The Battle of Britain Flight truly is unique. We will be seeing one of the only two airworthy Lancasters and the only one based in the UK. I suppose I am biased but for those who have not heard it before there really is the most incredible noise.

It is so different from the aircraft of today and is a poignant reminder of what the aircrew gave so we could have a tomorrow. The noise and sight of the Lancaster is quite incredible and we are so pleased that the Department of Tourism has backed us to ensure local residents and race fans alike see a tremendous spectacle at the beginning of TT fortnight.'

The idea of bringing over the Battle of Britain Flight was that of Mr.Arnold who served in the Royal Air Force for over 20 years, largely on the transport side. In addition, he was a broadcaster with Forces Radio. He now lives in Andreas and was encouraged to take the project forward after finding so many people with personal memories of the War, and these aircraft in particular.

The concept of the Flight originated in the years immediately following the end of the fighting when a Spitfire and Hurricane led the Victory Day flypast over London. This expanded, in 1957, to a proposal to form an historic collection of flyable aircraft thus commemorating the Air Force’s involvement in the campaigns of World War 2.

Since its inception the aircrew have been drawn from volunteers whose primary duties were spent on front-line models such as Typhoon, Jaguar and Boeing E3D AWACs or training aircraft. Originally, the ground crew as well were drawn from volunteers but with the expansion of the fleet in the 1970s engineering was placed on a more formal footing and there is now a 25-strong full time maintenance crew.

Tourism Minister Adrian Earnshaw praised the initiative of Mr.Arnold and the Manx Aviation Museum in providing a major link with history. He added:

‘It has to be remembered that these aircraft needed to be built very quickly because of the circumstances which existed at the time. It is a tribute to the quality of engineering that these marvellous machines are still flying, and entertaining crowds, sixty years on. It is appropriate that they should come to the Island at this time as we are both commemorating significant milestones. It is the centenary of the Tourist Trophy Races and also the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.’

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