Saturday, May 10, 2014

The last Spitfire out of...

Sometimes you don't realise something's actually making history at the time.  The image below was taken of a Spitfire at an airshow; so far, so straightforward.  But the relatively nondescript location is an historic one; it's on the upper hillside of the former Croydon Airport, once, particularly in the 1930s, London and Britain's air gateway to the world.

The Spitfire PL983, is a PR Mk.XI (appropriately registered G-PRXI) a photo reconnaissance version, seen here in the colours adopted for the excellent TV series 'Piece of Cake'. It's seen at the Croydon Anniversary Airshow in 1988, and proved to be the last Spitfire to fly from the Croydon Airport site. The reason for the airshow in 1988 was to mark, in Australian Bicentennial year, the 60th anniversary of the first solo flight to Australia by Bert Hinkler, and the airport's many other Australian connections. There had been a previous airshow in 1980, which I didn't get to, commemorating Amy Johnson's record flight which had also started from Croydon.

This area is now known as the Roundshaw Open Space, and the end of a taxiway and runway junction can be seen on Google Earth, which would be to the right of the Spitfire in the image. For orientation, the old control tower and terminal building are off to the right of the image, about a half-mile down the hill. I think there's a line of trees planted about where the Spitfire is in my pic, and the buildings behind it in the foreground are on what was the airfield up to the 1950s when it closed.

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