April 26, 2014

Spirit of Spitfire lives on

David Ellis

EIGHTY years ago on an icy February morning in 1934, a small group of British aircraft chiefs and engineers huddled at the-then Eastleigh Aerodrome (now Southampton Airport,) to watch the first test flight of a new fighter aircraft they hoped would ensure Britain's military superiority in the air for decades to come.

That aircraft was the Supermarine 224, and those on the ground shook their heads in dismay and disappointment as it failed dismally to come up to expectations.
As they trudged downcast off the aerodrome, the most-heavy in heart was chief designer, RJ 'Reg' Mitchell who, while shattered at the results of the test flight, headed back to his drawing board determined he would not be beaten.
And beaten he was not, within two years creating arguably the most important aircraft for Britain in WWII, and one of the most famous fighter planes the world has ever known.

It was ultimately named the Spitfire, and while Reg Mitchell and his team had successfully turned failure into triumph, Mitchell would sadly not live to see the success of his "baby" – dying of cancer in June 1937, three years before the 1940 Battle of Britain in which the Spitfire was credited with changing the course of World War II.
The first actual Spitfire to take to the air after Reg Mitchell re-worked his Supermarine 224 from the failure of 1934, did so on March the 5th 1936. Powered by a massive Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and able to fly at more than 700km/hr, and with four deadly machine guns in each wing, it was deemed far ahead of its time.

The test pilot Captain Joseph 'Mutt' Summers, was absolutely ecstatic after the flight. "Don't change anything," he almost yelled in jubilation to the aeronautical engineers anxiously awaiting his appraisal. "It's perfect!"
And so delighted were the Royal Air Force high brass who had also watched the flight, that the RAF immediately ordered 310 of the aircraft, with a giant factory being created in the Southampton suburb of Woolston to build them.
The name Spitfire was chosen by Board members of Supermarine Aviation, the company that employed Reg Mitchell, being taken from a 16th century word meaning a quick-tempered or highly excitable person.
But Reg Mitchell was anything than impressed with their choice, telling a friend: "Spitfire – just the sort of bloody silly name they would choose."
And by the time WWII broke out in 1939, the Germans were already very well aware of the massive threat the Spitfire posed – so much so that in two carefully-planned daylight bombing raids in September 1940, they totally destroyed the Woolston Spitfire factory, killing 110 people inside in the process.
Lord Beaverbrook, at the time Minister for Aircraft Procurement, visited Southampton and ordered that rather than one central factory, components for the Spitfire should be made at scattered locations. 
And bizarrely within days thousands of mostly unskilled workers, mainly youths not old enough to join the armed forces, and women, were turning up at everything from laundrettes and bus stations, to motor garages and school halls to keep production of the Spitfire moving, the parts and sections they worked on being taken to remote airfields for assembly into Spitfires and test flown from these remote and often secret fields.
By the end of the war 20,351 Spitfires had been built in Britain, amazingly nearly half from parts from these improvised "factories" in the suburbs of Southampton.
The Solent Sky Museum – the Solent the waterway on which Southampton sits – draws thousands of tourists every year interested in this historic hub of aviation, and where at times no less than 26 companies were engaged in WWII aircraft construction.
And not only Spitfires. Among other famous planes was the Short Sunderland flying boat, used as a patrol aircraft and bomber before being renamed after the war the Sandringham, and converted by some airlines into a luxury civilian plane.
Visitors to the Solent Sky Museum can check-out today how the rich and famous who could afford to fly in the late 1940s did so, with a restored luxury-for-its-time  Sandringham at the museum open to walk through.
FLIGHT NOTE: SOUTHAMPTON's local rugby league team is called the Southampton Spitfires, their Player of the Year receiving, appropriately, the RJ Mitchell Memorial Medal.



[] PROTOTYPE Spitfire before first flight in 1936. (Spitfire.com)
[] SPITFIRES XIIs of 41 Squadron in formation over England in April 1944. (Panavia)
[] A RESTORED Spitfire in flight today. (Wikipedia)
[] SANDRINGHAM flying boat converted from a Short Sunderland built in Southampton during WWII, and operated in Australia by Ansett Airways before its collapse in 2001. (Wikimedia)
[] REG Mitchell and plaque displayed today on the house he lived in in Southampton when he designed the Spitfire. (Wikimedia)

April 25, 2014

World's Busiest Airports

Just part of Atlanta's massive airport.

Rank Airport Location Code
Rank %
1. United States Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Atlanta, Georgia, United States ATL/KATL 94,430,785 Steady Decrease1.1%
2. China Beijing Capital International Airport Chaoyang, Beijing, China PEK/ZBAA 83,712,355 Steady Increase2.2%
3. United Kingdom Heathrow Airport Hillingdon, London, United Kingdom LHR/EGLL 72,368,030 Steady Increase3.3%
4. Japan Tokyo International Airport Ōta, Tokyo, Japan HND/RJTT 68,906,636 Steady Increase3.3%
5. United States O'Hare International Airport Chicago, Illinois, United States ORD/KORD 66,883,271 Steady Decrease0.1%
6. United States Los Angeles International Airport Los Angeles, California, United States LAX/KLAX 66,702,252 Steady Increase4.7%
7. United Arab Emirates Dubai International Airport Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates DXB/OMDB 66,431,533 Increase3 Increase15.2%
8. France Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Roissy-en-France, Île-de-France, France CDG/LFPG 62,052,917 Decrease1 Increase0.7%
9. United States Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, United States DFW/KDFW 60,436,266 Decrease1 Increase3.2%
10. Indonesia Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Cengkareng, Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia CGK/WIII 59,701,543 Decrease1 Increase3.4%
11. Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong, China HKG/VHHH 59,609,414 Increase1 Increase6.3%
12. Germany Frankfurt Airport Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany FRA/EDDF 58,036,948 Decrease1 Increase0.9%
13. Singapore Singapore Changi Airport Changi, East Region, Singapore SIN/WSSS 53,726,087 Increase2 Increase5.0%
14. Netherlands Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Haarlemmermeer, North Holland, Netherlands AMS/EHAM 52,569,250 Increase2 Increase3.0%
15. United States Denver International Airport Denver, Colorado, United States DEN/KDEN 52,556,359 Decrease2 Decrease1.1%
16. China Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Huadu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China CAN/ZGGG 52,450,262 Increase2 Increase8.6%
17. Thailand Suvarnabhumi Airport Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, Thailand BKK/VTBS 51,363,451 Decrease3 Decrease3.1%
18. Turkey Atatürk International Airport Istanbul, Turkey IST/LTBA 51,172,626 Increase2 Increase13.6%
19. United States John F. Kennedy International Airport Queens, New York City, New York, United States JFK/KJFK 50,413,204 Decrease2 Increase2.3%
20. Malaysia Kuala Lumpur International Airport Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia KUL/WMKK 47,498,157 Increase7 Increase19.1%
21. China Shanghai Pudong International Airport Pudong, Shanghai, China PVG/ZSPD 47,189,849 Steady Increase5.2%
22. United States San Francisco International Airport San Mateo County, California, United States SFO/KSFO 44,944,201 Steady Increase1.2%
23. United States Charlotte Douglas International Airport Charlotte, North Carolina, United States CLT/KCLT 43,456,310 Increase1 Increase5.4%
24. United States McCarran International Airport Las Vegas, Nevada, United States LAS/KLAS 41,856,787 Decrease1 Decrease0.5%
25. South Korea Seoul Incheon International Airport Incheon, Republic of Korea ICN/RKSI 41,679,758 Increase4 Increase6.5%
26. United States Miami International Airport Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States MIA/KMIA 40,563,071 Increase2 Increase2.8%
27. United States Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Phoenix, Arizona, United States PHX/KPHX 40,318,451 Decrease2 Decrease0.3%
28. United States George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston, Texas, United States IAH/KIAH 39,865,325 Decrease2 Decrease0.1%
29. Spain Madrid Barajas Airport Madrid, Spain MAD/LEMD 39,729,027 Decrease10 Decrease12.1%
30. Germany Munich Airport Freising, Bavaria, Germany MUC/EDDM 38,672,644 Steady Increase0.8%
31. Australia Sydney Airport Sydney, New South Wales, Australia SYD/YSSY 38,254,039 Steady Increase2.4%
32. India Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi, India DEL/VIDP 36,712,455 Increase5 Increase7.3%
33. Brazil São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport Guarulhos, São Paulo, Brazil GRU/SBGR 36,460,923 Increase10 Increase10.6%
34. Italy Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport Fiumicino, Rome, Italy FCO/LIRF 36,165,762 Decrease5 Decrease2.2%
35. Canada Toronto Pearson International Airport Mississauga, Ontario, Canada YYZ/CYYZ 36,037,962 Steady Increase3.2%
36. China Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport Changning District, Shanghai, China SHA/ZSSS 35,599,643 Increase3 Increase5.3%
37. United Kingdom London Gatwick Airport Crawley, West Sussex, United Kingdom LGW/EGKK 35,448,590 Decrease1 Increase3.6%
38. Japan Narita International Airport Narita, Chiba, Japan NRT/RJAA 35,341,341 Increase4 Increase7.6%
39. Spain Barcelona Airport Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain BCN/LEBL 35,210,735 Decrease5 Increase0.2%
40. United States Newark Liberty International Airport Newark, New Jersey, United States EWR/KEWR 35,016,236 Decrease2 Increase3.0%
41. United States Orlando International Airport Orlando, Florida, United States MCO/KMCO 34,973,645 Decrease8 Decrease0.8%
42. United States Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Seattle, Washington, United States SEA/KSEA 34,824,281 Decrease2 Increase4.8%
43. United States Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport Fort Snelling, Minnesota, United States MSP/KMSP 33,870,693 Decrease2 Increase2.3%
44. China Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport Shuangliu, Chengdu, Sichuan, China CTU/ZUUU 33,445,817 Increase2 Increase5.8%
45. Philippines Ninoy Aquino International Airport Pasay/Parañaque, Metro Manila, Philippines MNL/RPLL 32,856,597 Steady Increase3.1%
46. United States Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Detroit, Michigan, United States DTW/KDTW 32,389,544 Decrease2 Increase0.6%
47. China Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport Bao'an District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China SZX/ZGSZ 32,268,457 Increase2 Increase9.1%
48. India Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Mumbai, Maharashtra, India BOM/VABB 31,940,026 Steady Increase6.3%
49. Mexico Benito Juárez International Airport Venustiano Carranza, Mexico City, Mexico MEX/MMMX 31,534,638 Increase Increase6.9%
50. Russia Domodedovo International Airport Domodedovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia DME/UUDD 30,765,078 Increase Increase9.2%

Support Traveloscopy - Support Responsible Travel.

Traveloscopy is a freelance journalism enterprise supporting the tourism and travel industries. We aim to encourage people to travel thoughtfully and responsibly and also support sustainable initiatives within the travel sector. You can help us cover our operating costs, even if in just a small way.

Last 30 Days' Most Popular Posts