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Posted: 18 June 2014
Top pilot Charlie Brown toasted his 1,000th flying hour in the legendary Spitfire aircraft with a bottle of Shepherd Neame’s Spitfire Ale.
Flight Lieutenant Brown, who joined the RAF in 1981, and currently works as an RAF pilot instructor, first flew a Spitfire in 1991, and has since flown 13 different models.
He currently volunteers as the display and test pilot for the Historic Aircraft Collection, which restores and operates vintage military aircraft, and completed his 1,000th hour in their Mark 5 Spitfire on Sunday, June 15.
Dozens of Spitfire enthusiasts flocked to Pent Farm in Postling, near Hythe, where Flt Lt Brown landed the aircraft as part of a day of celebrations.
Flt Lt Brown, 53, said: “Completing my 1,000th Spitfire flying hour was a very special moment, and I did a loop and roll in the air to celebrate! I have a real passion for flying historic aircraft, particularly Spitfires, not only because of the joy of actually flying the plane, but the pleasure I receive from seeing the happiness it brings to others watching it.”
It is a particularly special achievement for Flt Lt Brown, since he was inspired to become a pilot by his grandfather, who worked as a Spitfire aeroplane mechanic.
Flt Lt Brown said: “I spent hours as a child working on Spitfire repairs with my grandfather in his garden shed, and I became fascinated with aeroplanes. After school I moved from my home in the New Forest to study agricultural economics at Wye College in Kent, and joined the University of London Air Squadron in my spare time while I was there, then joined the RAF after finishing my degree.”
The father-of-three and grandfather-of-one now lives in Lincolnshire, a couple of miles from RAF College Cranwell, where he teaches, but still makes regular visits back to Kent.
His wife Kay is originally from Newington near Sittingbourne, and their daughter Emily Hesketh works as a doctor at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother hospital in Margate.
Flt Lt Brown said: “Kent has a special place in my heart, which is one of the many reasons I love Spitfire Ale, as it is brewed in the county. We used to holiday in Broadstairs every summer when our children were small, and I remember trying Spitfire Ale at a restaurant there when it first came out. I have loved it ever since, and it seemed the perfect choice to celebrate this special occasion!”