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Sunderland Airshow: Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will commemorate 75 years since D-Day

Credit: Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Kicking off the flying programme at the 31st annual Sunderland International Airshow is the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It's a historic display in the air, commemorating the vital role the RAF played in World War Two.

It's a particularly poignant year, with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Two Spitfires that were flown that day in Normandy will take to the skies in Sunderland, joined by Hurricane and Lancaster aircraft.

The aircraft were instrumental during D-Day, helping provide the airpower needed for Allied victory Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Flying the precious aircraft are carefully selected pilots. One of them is RAF Squadron Leader Mark Discombe, who says the opportunity to fly is more than an honour.

RAF Squadron Leader Mark Discombe Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

I'm very lucky to be doing everything I ever dreamed of as a young lad.

It comes with a huge amount of pressure, self-pressure knowing that you are looking after some of these incredibly valuable and for me priceless aircraft that represent the heritage, a very proud heritage of the Royal airforce over the last one hundred and one years.

– Sqdn Ldr Mark Discombe, RAF

Maintaining these aircraft and keeping them in an air-worthy condition is a 30 strong engineering team. Sergeant Martin Godwin, who's originally from Newcastle, heads up the avionics and electronics side of the operation.

RAF Sergeant Martin Godwin Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

It's not like anywhere else in the airforce because it is raw engineering... On the Hurricane engine, the wiring and electronics and things that we have to look after are just unique.

I think the youngest aircraft we've got is 75 years old, so it is difficult, but you do have to normalise it and behave like they're just an aircraft or else you would never get anything done because they're so precious.

– Sgt Martin Godwin
The cockpit of a mark 5B Spitfire, which took part in D-Day Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The BBMF take part in around 100 displays and up to 400 flypasts each season. The programme takes careful planning as the flying hours are limited here to ensure the aircraft's long-term preservation.

Recent flypasts included the D-Day 75th-anniversary celebrations, along with many other and important historical events.

To remember those who have fallen, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will take to the skies on Friday 26 July at 18:10 - 18:30.

BBMF will feature at the Sunderland Airshow Friday 26 - Sunday 28 July 2019 Credit: Battle of Britain Memorial Flight