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Spitfire completes 5,000-plus-mile North American tour


During the summer of 2018, the newly restored Spitfire IX, TE294, of the Michael Potter Aircraft Collection/Vintage Wings of Canada flew from its home base of Ottawa/Gatineau to Comox, British Columbia, and back, and appeared at a number of events during the 5,000-plus-mile tour. It is the only Spitfire flying in Canada.

Spitfire pilot Dave Hadfield said, “We crossed the Rocky Mountains twice, flew around gigantic regions of forest fires, displayed at several airshows, covered nearly 6,000 miles, and the aeroplane performed superbly. The Merlin never missed a beat.”

Departing in mid-July, the Spitfire spent a week at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where it was part of the event’s RAF centenary celebration. It won the Reserve Grand Champion Warbird prize there, plus several other awards. Then it routed through the north-western states via Mullen Pass, and arrived in Comox, where it was the focus of presentations and displays organized by the Y2K Spitfire team led by retired RCAF Col Terry Chester.

Canada’s highest-scoring surviving fighter pilot, Wg Cdr James ‘Stocky’ Edwards, was on hand to greet his old mount — he is pictured below in the machine. The aircraft was featured at many events, including a gala dinner, interviews, the Abbotsford Airshow, and many other public appearances. The return flight was delayed by smoke from more than 500 forest fires in British Columbia, but was successfully accomplished in late August.

TE294’s markings commemorate Flt Lt Arnold ‘Rosey’ Roseland, who flew the machine it represents 65 times in 1944 with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His squadron, 442, still exists today, flying search and rescue missions from CFB Comox. During its stay there the Spitfire was sheltered in the same hangar occupied by the current 442 Squadron aircraft, the DHC-5 Buffalo.

Upon its return, the Spitfire was featured in the Aero Gatineau-Ottawa airshow and a Battle of Britain flypast in September, joining the rest of the Potter collection’s fighters. Former International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield, another retired RCAF colonel, checked out on the aircraft and flew in the display. TE294 operates with the support of Vintage Wings of Canada, the foundation located at the Spitfire’s home base at Gatineau airport.

(Photos: RCAF 19 Wing Public Affairs and Heath Moffat)

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