Pilots take off in bid to fly 1943 Spitfire that flew 50 WW2 missions around the world

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Two British pilots have taken off on their challenge to fly a newly-restored Spitfire that flew 50 missions in the Second World War 27,000 miles around the world in the first trip of its kind.

Steve Brooks, 58, from Oxfordshire, and Matt Jones, 45, from Exeter, will stop off at 100 locations in 30 countries during the five-month journey.

The project, named Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight, set off from Goodwood aerodrome, the base of Boultbee Flight Academy, the first-ever school for Spitfire pilots, in West Sussex.

The pilots have set off on an historic trip. Credit: ITV News

A glitzy event was held for the departure attended by celebrities including Gone Girl actor Rosamund Pike, Rocketman star Taron Egerton and Formula One driver David Coulthard.

Speaking ahead of take-off, Mr Jones said: “I’m a bit nervous but excited to get going. It’s been a long time in planning and we’ve put a lot of work into this airplane.”

He explained that the biggest challenges the expedition faced were the weather and supplies of aviation fuel (Avgas).

He said: “The weather is going to be the biggest part of it but also getting fuel to the right places, Avgas is very common here and in the US, but in other countries we are having it supplied for us.”

Rosamund Pike with a restored MK IX Spitfire at Goodwood Aerodrome. Credit: PA

Mr Brooks, who co-founded the school in 2010, could not contain his excitement.

He told ITV News: "It's quite extraordinary, usually an aeroplane you get into, but this one, you sort of wear. You put it on like a jacket. Once you've got your jacket on, it becomes part of you."

"You look to a cloud and you think: 'I'd like to go there', and your body is just whisked at 300 miles an hour and you just arrive at it like an angel."

The long journey mapped out. Credit: PA Graphic

Also to see the plane off was the daughters of one of the original Spitfire's test pilots.

Jennie Sherborne told ITV News: "It's going to be wonderful, and I just wish them all the luck in the world."

Jennie Sherborne's father was a Spitfire test pilot. Credit: ITV News

Mr Brooks and Mr Jones will first head to Scotland, then westbound to places including the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and India and back to Britain with a single-seated Mk IX Spitfire originally built in 1943, followed by a chase plane for safety.

The pair said they will be taking regular breaks and switch at different stops.

Matt Jones (right) and Steve Brooks with their newly restored MK IX Spitfire Credit: PA

The chase plane, which will have a full-time captain, an engineer, as well as a film and camera crew to video the journey for a documentary, will follow the Spitfire.

Either Mr Jones or Mr Brooks, a property developer, will also be in the plane whenever they are not flying the Spitfire.

A restored MK IX Spitfire takes off from Goodwood aerodrome. Credit: PA

As part of the journey, the aviation enthusiasts will travel to Scotland, then spend a couple of nights in Iceland, head through Greenland into Canada, before heading across the US into Russia and then Asia.