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Watch: Spitfire flies over Northern Ireland hospitals to thank NHS staff

A Spitfire took to the skies over Northern Ireland on Thursday bearing a special message thanking NHS workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Emblazoned with the words THANK U NHS, the aircraft passed over hospitals in the north west.

People watched in delight as the aircraft sped past Causeway Hospital in Coleraine before flying over Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

It landed at City of Derry Airport around 4.20pm.

One onlooker said: "It was an incredible sight and a fitting way to salute our health service staff."

Earlier, the plane had flown over hospitals around Scotland.

The Spitfire, based at Duxford Airfield near Cambridge, flew over its local area during the weekly clap for carers at the height of lockdown.

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In Scotland it flew over hospitals in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Dundee.

Pilot and owner John Romain said: "For the last of the claps, my son said why don't we paint 'Thank you NHS' under the wing of the Spitfire because it's already this lovely blue colour - it was a photo reconnaissance Spitfire, it never carried guns, it just carried cameras and the blue was part of its camouflage.

"So we wrote that under the wings, flew those routes and more and more people just loved seeing the aeroplane. We then decided to do some hospitals.

"That grew with the NHS saying would you do some more. So in the next two weeks we will have covered the whole of the UK."

The Spitfire also flew past other Northern Ireland hospitals on Friday.

It passed Craigavon Hospital at 10.15am, Armagh Community Hospital (10.19am), Daisy Hill Hospital (10.25am), Downshire Hospital (10.34am), Lagan Valley Hospital (10.40am) and Musgrave Park Hospital (10.42am).

At 10.48am it will passed Antrim Area Hospital, followed by the Royal Victoria (10.53am), Belfast City Hospital (10.54am), the Ulster Hospital (11am) and Ards Community Hospital (11.03am).

It will then flew onto Newtownards Airport, where it was due to land at 11.10am.

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