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Spitfire takes centre stage during Armed Forces event

By Linda Stewart

Published 20/06/2016

First Minister Arlene Foster at the Armed Forces Day in the replica Down Spitfire funded by the Belfast Telegraph
First Minister Arlene Foster at the Armed Forces Day in the replica Down Spitfire funded by the Belfast Telegraph
Gavin McQuaid from the Wartime Living History Association and Arthur Somerville
Troops on parade at Armed Forces Day in Antrim Castle Gardens
Troops on parade at Armed Forces Day in Antrim Castle Gardens
Troops on parade at Armed Forces Day in Antrim Castle Gardens
Niall Dunn sets his sights during the special event

First Minister Arlene Foster took to the cockpit of the 'Down Spitfire' for the Armed Forces Day in Antrim on Saturday.

The DUP leader took a turn at the joystick of the replica fighter plane which was put on display by the Ulster Aviation Society at the annual event.

The aircraft is a replica of the original Spitfire, one of 17 purchased during World War Two by public donations to the Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund.

Each of the 17 was named after a community, county or region in Northern Ireland, but the 'Down' was the only one based here. It crashed in January 1942, near Lurgan, killing Canadian pilot Walter McManus.

Regulars, reserves, cadets and veterans paraded through Antrim town and Antrim Castle Gardens to Antrim Stadium, followed by a Drumhead Service. 

There was a full line-up of events in the stadium, including assault courses in the military recruitment village, arena acts, street traders, military bands and a capability demonstration showing the work of the Tri-Services.

Brigadier Commander Andrew Roe said: "Our links with Antrim go deep and the organisational support for this event has been immensely professional. Although it's Armed Forces Day, it is really a family day when everyone of all ages enjoys a great day out," he said.

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