AN ICONIC Spitfire roared into Loganair’s Glasgow hangar at the weekend as the airline celebrated its golden status in the Armed Forces Covenant.
The UK’s largest regional airline became the first in the country to receive the accolade in July this year in recognition of the positive role it has played in supporting employment opportunities for the Armed Forces community.
The Gold Award is the highest badge of honour from the UK Government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) – the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Covenant encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same. It encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community and also align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.
In celebration of the prestigious award, and at the request of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, the Supermarine Spitfire PR-XIX (PS853) cruised into Loganair’s Glasgow hangar alongside a Harvard (IIB KF183) ahead of the duo’s weekend appearance at the International Ayr Show.
Retaining its original photo reconnaissance (PR) blue livery, the Spitfire – powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine – was built in Southampton in 1944 and flew active service during WWII over Belgium and Holland including missions to locate possible German V1 & V2 launch sites.
The plane was bought by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust in 1996 and is thought to be one of the last remaining PR models still in flying condition.
Piloted by Graham Pemberton (former RAF), the Spitfire was the star of a weekend event at Loganair’s hangar where the airline invited 2175 (Rolls-Royce Hillington) Air Cadets in for a special viewing alongside Trust members.
Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “The pace of running an airline is such that you rarely get the chance to stop and reflect on the rich history of our industry, but it really felt like time stood still for a brief moment as we watched these aircraft approach and land at Glasgow in stunning sunshine.
“It was also a great opportunity to reflect on the continuing service of Rolls-Royce over the decades – who built the Spitfire engines and who support the engines on Loganair’s Embraer 145 jet fleet today.
“You could not have asked for better conditions, and I want to thank the RRHT for once again giving us the opportunity to look after these aircraft during their time with us.
“The initial approach came at the same time we received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award this summer, so it feels like the stars aligned. It was an incredible honour to achieve gold status and it was also a privilege to invite 2175 Air Cadets over to the hangar for Friday’s event.”
Synonymous with the Second World War, the Spitfire was central to the RAF’s battle for air supremacy in the global conflict from 1939-1945 and was powered by Rolls-Royce’s Merlin and Griffon engines, which created its distinctive growl.
Keen spotters were treated to a rare glimpse of the iconic plane in flight as it flew from Glasgow to Ayr over the weekend alongside the yellow Harvard (IIB KF183), which was built in 1944 by Noorduyn Aircraft Company of Montreal and served its time in the RAF from 1944 as a training aircraft, clocking up more than 15,000 flying hours over 72 years of service.
Graham Carson, Chairman of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust (Scotland): “I would like to congratulate Loganair on receiving the Gold Award and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
“It gives me great pleasure that, in Loganair agreeing to help house our historic aircraft for the day, we could join the celebrations, which also allowed the 2175 (Rolls-Royce Hillington) Air Cadets and members of the Heritage Trust to come along and see the Rolls-Royce Spitfire and the Harvard.
“It’s even more special that this was at Glasgow airport, only a few minutes from the site of the Rolls-Royce factory at Hillington where 23,647 Merlin Engines were produced during the war years.”