article by: Ian Crowder
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster, Hurricane PZ865 and Spitfire AB910 'somewhere over England'. Photo by Martin Bowman, Crown Copyright
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - how it
In the years after World War Two it was traditional for a
Spitfire and Hurricane to lead the Victory Day flypast over London.
That was the seed from which the concept of a historic collection
of flyable aircraft grew - initially, to honour the Battle of
Britain but more recently, to commemorate all of the battles in
which the RAF was involved.
The Flight was formed in 1957 and since then, the aircrew have
been volunteers whose 'day job' is to fly modern aircraft types.
And, although today there are several employed staff maintaining
the Flight's extraordinary collection of aircraft, there are many
more who are volunteers from all walks of life.
Over the years the BBMF has been called on to appear at an
increasing number of events and this year, the 90th Anniversary of
the RAF, the BBMF will put in over 900 individual appearances at
over 500 separate events, indluding 100 air displays and over 400
flypasts - ranging from village fetes to massive events such as the
Queen's birthday celebrations. Included is the appearance on Sunday
1st June over the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
These aircraft are in perfect flying condition - above all, they
are a strong and tangible memorial to the national debt owed to
those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The David Shepherd link
David Shepherd, the artist, wildlife conservationist and owner
of British Railways 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince which is
based on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, has a long
connection with the RAF and the Battle of Britain Memorial
In the late 1950s, the Royal Air Force, with whom David Shepherd
has never served, used to fly him all around the world gathering
material for commissioned paintings of aviation subjects: which is
how he started his artistic career. They flew him to Nairobi in
1960 and it was there that they commissioned David's very first
wildlife painting, which changed his life and from which he has
never looked back.
So David is only too ready to say that he owes an enormous debt
of gratitude to the RAF.
In 1978 this debt was repaid in some measure when he was asked
to raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. This
involved doing a painting, Winter of '43, Somewhere in England,
showing a Lancaster bomber being serviced at the side of an