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Air fair anniversary salute to bravery of The Few

PUBLISHED: 15:02 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:57 12 August 2010

SPITFIRE

SPITFIRE

PLANS are already afoot to make the Biggin Hill air show the best yet to tie in with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Staff and various societies are working around the clock at historical Biggin Hil

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PLANS are already afoot to make the Biggin Hill air show the best yet to tie in with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Staff and various societies are working around the clock at historical Biggin Hill Airport where the bloody battle was fought in 1940 to commemorate the Royal Air Force's victory over the Nazis.

The site was the key fighter base during World War Two and crew there claimed 1,400 enemy aircraft during the course of the conflict.

Biggin Hill airport will become a hive of activity over the weekend of June 26 and 27 for the international air fair as various clubs and supporters come together to mark the special occasion.

Returning to the show will be the Mk 1 Hawker Hurricane, a former RAF squadron aircraft, which flew in the heroic battle from Croydon airfield and was restored by specialist engineer Peter Vacher.

It will be re-united once more with its original pilot, Wing Commander Bob Foster, now Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.

Mr Foster said: "It was very emotional when I first saw it three year ago. To sit in it when it had been redone was very emotional- it was 65 years since I had been in it."

The aircraft was badly damaged twice during the conflict and was taken to India towards the end of the war.

It was later given as a gift to the Indians who used its engine to help teach university students. The frame was found by Mr Vacher during the 90s and he made it his mission to bring it back to British soil.

Mr Foster said it is important for young people to remember what the crews fought and died for.

He told the Times: "We're trying to teach the younger generation what it was all about. History is coming back on the agenda. There was a time when schools didn't want to know, you would approach them but they didn't want anything to do with the war which made us quite angry at the time.

"But that was going back 20 or 30 years ago- there is a different outlook on war now because we have one on our hands. You can see it every day now. It's bringing it home how important it all is.

"There is a view that Battle of Britain veterans are important now because there won't be many of us left soon- the youngest of us is 89."

Asked whether he was aware at the time that he was taking part in something which would go down in history, the 90-year-old said: "We knew it was an important battle and if we lost there would be a strong chance of invasion.

"We knew we had to win but we didn't know how important it would turn out to be. We may not be sitting here chatting otherwise."

Other events at the show will include a daily flying display will replicate the 1940s scene with a realistic airfield attack by a Messerschmitt 109 fighter of the type flown by the wartime German Luftwaffe, defended by Hurricanes and Spitfires.

Spectators can also expect pyrotechnics and giant television screens showing archive film footage will provide the backdrop to the displays.

Meanwhile the crowd-pleasing aerobatic team, the Red Arrows, along with freefall parachutists, The Falcons, who will perform stomach churning tricks in the overhead skies.

The RAF's Battle of Britain memorial flight will take pride of place in the viewing enclosures and will fly the famous Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster trio each day.

International participants in the show this year include an Alphajet of the French Air Force and a General Dynamics F-16 fighter/interceptor of the Belgian Air Force.

The flying programme will have move than five hours of display flying throughout the afternoon on both days. The static show embraces more than 100 aircraft on display as well as 300 exhibitor stands and food and drink halls, along with a funfair.

Air Fair spokesperson Simon Ames said: "It will be dramatic because of the anniversary. It will be hugely exciting and it will build on all the last years to make it another memorable flying weekend.

"The fact that it is the 70th anniversary will ring around the world. We are expecting people from New Zealand, Australia and throughout Europe as well as some of the Middle East.

"The 70th anniversary is very important. This country could have been overrun by the Nazis if Nazi air forces had won this battle. It was a great achievement by some very competent aircrew and ground crew."

The Air Fair ticket office is now open for advance sales at discount prices up to close of business on June 18. Tickets may be purchased online through www.bigginhillairfair.co.uk or by telephone on 01959 572277.

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