On August 5, a carefully restored Spitfire took off from London to embark on an IWC Schaffhausen supported round-the-world flight called the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” which will cover more than 43,000 km over several months, visiting some 30 countries on its way.
The circumnavigation honours the quintessential design and unparalleled engineering of the iconic British plane. The expedition is the brainchild of Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones, founders of the Boultbee Flight Academy, based on the Goodwood Estate in the south of England.
IWC boasts a history of more than 80 years manufacturing Pilot’s Watches and has previously commemorated the Spitfire, with several special-edition watches. “More than any other aircraft, the Spitfire symbolises man’s dream of flying. She is a masterpiece of engineering, who was born ahead of her time and who continues to dazzle with her iconic design. We were instantly captivated by the ambitious idea of flying this aircraft around the world and we are excited to be able to help this adventure along its way,” explained Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.
As well as supporting the expedition, IWC have also announced a long-term partnership with the Boultbee Flight Academy. The institution, founded by pilots Boultbee-Brooks and Jones, is the first officially recognised Spitfire flying academy in the world. “IWC Schaffhausen shares our passion for aviation and our admiration for the Spitfire. We know we have found the perfect partner to make our vision of a round-the-world flight a reality,” explained Jones.
The Spitfire, marked MJ271, was originally built in 1943 in Castle Bromwich. For the expedition, the aircraft has been stripped down and painstakingly restored. Every single component part has been lovingly polished by hand to a brilliant sheen to give the plane its dazzling silver appearance. It will be rechristened the “Silver Spitfire”.
The first part of the tour will see the Silver Spitfire fly via Canada into the USA, allowing the expedition team to benefit from the comparatively mild weather conditions of the Arctic. From there, the route continues via South East Asia to India, before turning towards the Middle East and flying on back to Europe. On its way, the “Silver Spitfire” will touch down in several countries that have never before seen an aeroplane of this sort on their runways.
French artist Romain Hugault, famed for his aviation-themed illustrations, will accompany the Spitfire to create an artistic record of the journey. Hugault holds a pilot’s licence and can often be seen behind the controls of his own 1942 Piper L4. He is widely regarded as one of the most pre-eminent illustrators of classic aviation.