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Spitfire back in the air on 80th anniversary of prototype's maiden flight

The 80th anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire has been marked with a re-enactment along the original flightpath taken by the aircraft.

The Spitfire, flown by Matt Jones, took off from Southampton Airport to follow the route which the prototype took in 1936, heading along the Hampshire coast to Portsmouth before returning.

The flight took the Spitfire close to the resting place of the aircraft's chief designer RJ Mitchell at South Stoneham Cemetery and also passed near to the site of the old Supermarine factory in Woolston where thousands of the aircraft were built.

Members of the local 2428 (Hedge End) Air Cadet Squadron were also present to perform a guard of honour for the Spitfire as it was wheeled out of the hangar.

Among the guests was one of the engineers during the aircraft's heyday, Gordon Monger, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and his wife, Judy, the daughter of one of the designers Ernest Mansbridge.

Mr Monger, 90, said: "It doesn't seem real to me after all these years. It still looks as marvellous to me as it did all those years ago."

Dave Lees, managing director of Southampton Airport said: "Who would have thought that 80 years after the maiden flight from Southampton Airport of Spitfire K5054, this famous aircraft would still be inspiring new businesses and young people. I am sure that RJ Mitchell, the chief designer, would be very proud that the Spitfire continues to enthrall people today."

Mr Jones, the co-founder of new venture Flying With Spitfires which has helped organise the event, said: "We are delighted to be launching our new business from the birthplace of the Spitfire on this very special day."

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