Flying start

PUBLISHED: 12:07 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

Carolyn Grace who will be starting the flying display

Carolyn Grace who will be starting the flying display

THE Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden airfield near Biggleswade will host a very special guest for its sunset evening air show at this month. Carolyn Grace, who is the only current female Spitfire display pilot, will be displaying her two-seat Superma

THE Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden airfield near Biggleswade will host a very special guest for its sunset evening air show at this month.

Carolyn Grace, who is the only current female Spitfire display pilot, will be displaying her two-seat Supermarine Spitfire ML407 in the skies above Bedfordshire on Saturday, September 23.

HSBC Insurance brokers, who fund the insurance costs of the Spitfire, has paid for this unique visit to take place in the 70th anniversary year of the classic fighter.

Carolyn Grace and her aircraft are known to many as the star of the Channel four series Spitfire Ace. She learnt to fly and operate the Spitfire following the tragic death of her husband Nick in a car crash in 1988.

Now based at Duxford airfield, the aircraft has an interesting history. Built at Castle Bromwich in1944 as a single seat fighter, ML407 served in the front line of battle throughout the last 12 months of World War Two, with six different squadrons of the RAF's 2nd Tactical Air Force, flying 176 operational combat sorties.

ML407 was used for the film Battle of Britain and was then sold to the Strathallan Museum from where it was acquired by engineer Nick Grace in 1979.

Mr Grace spent five years meticulously restoring the Grace Spitfire to flying condition in its two-seat configuration, and completed this incredible project in 1985, when, on April 16, the Grace Spitfire flew again, with his capable hands at the controls.

Carolyn had just 185 hours of flying experience when Nick was killed. To take on the challenge of learning to fly the Spitfire was no mean feat, and one that took determination and sacrifice. Carolyn's two children, Olivia and Richard, are also involved in the Spitfire, with Richard, a display pilot with his trio of Cassutt racers, developing the engineering skills to maintain the Spitfire, and Olivia who is herself learning to fly, maintaining the ML407 website at www.ML407.co.uk

Carolyn said "I am delighted that I have been booked to display ML407 at the Shuttleworth sunset display on Saturday, September 23. ML407 and I will open the show at 4.30pm having arrived earlier in the day at around 12.30pm."

Visitors will get the chance to see the Spitfire up close on the grass at Old Warden and there will even be the chance to meet Carolyn herself. Gates open at 10am with a varied flying display starting at 4.30pm, which will include some of the Shuttleworth Collection's varied fleet of aircraft.

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