Rushden man takes to the skies in iconic Spitfire after winning dream competition

"I got to take the controls for a bit. I gave them back quite quickly but that was enough - I get to say I flew a Spitfire."

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:56 pm
Contest winner Chris Foster fulfilled a boyhood dream of flying in one of Britain's iconic Spitfires last week.

A lucky Rushden man lived out his dreams last week when he took to the skies over Kent in one of Britain's iconic Spitfires.

Self-professed war buff Chris Foster always imagined flying in one of the celebrated WWII fighter planes would just be out of his reach.

But in July last year, his wife Christine put her name in to win a Daily Express competition to win a flight from an original 'Battle of Britain' base - and Chris was picked out of 4,500 names.

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Chris with pilot Anna Walker and the Spitfire, decked in the Pacific War camouflage of 457 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force complete with shark's teeth

And on May 6, the 70-year-old retired businessman got to soar above Southern England as from the second seat of a restored 457 Squadron Spitfire complete with shark's teeth.

"I just had so much running through my mind while I was up there," said Chris. "It occurred to me that while half-an-hour jolly, all those boys in WWII had to do the same and a lot of them didn't come home. It made me quite emotional really.

"It was a fantastic experience. It's such an iconic plane. I got to take the controls for a bit. I gave them back quite quickly but that was enough - I get to say I flew a Spitfire."

The flight was the top prize from a Daily Express competition with the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar and the FlyASpitfire.com experience.

An emotional Chris upon touchdown. Picture by Adam Garrard.

However, after Chris' wife Christine won the lot, the Rushden couple was told they would have to wait a year before the chance to fly could come around amid the Covid-19 crisis.

"I had to wait like a good boy for a whole year," said Chris.

"It's one of those things were you would always want to do it but it means spending £2,500 or more on just an experience for yourself. I don't know if I ever would have.

"I'm 70-year-old and I'm a bit of a war buff, a general drift for a man of my age. But you want to do these things while you're still well enough to do them."

The flight from Biggin Hill - which coordinated many of the crucial flight missions of the Second World War - also saw some of Chris' family accompany him in a 'chase plane' before the spitfire peeled away and led Chris on a string of maneuvers to take in the Kent countryside.

It include the iconic 'victory roll' where pilot Anna Walker span the plane so Chris could see the world turn upside down.

Chris said: "I was reasonably emotional getting out.

"I want to thank my wife Christine for winning it for me. It was a fantastic experience. "