Ribble Valley man's magical experience flying 'mythical' Spitfire over Lancashire beauty spots

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A remarkable Ribble Valley pensioner was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when he flew in a Spitfire over some of his beloved local beauty spots.

Daredevil Mr Alan Taylor marked his 86th birthday as a passenger in the “mythical” fighter plane, which gained legendary status for its exploits during the Battle of Britain.

Alan, who lives in Barrow, first flew over Longridge Fell where his family and friends congregated to watch him zoom by, before swooping over Downham Hall and Pendle Hill.

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“It was unbelievable,” Alan told the Advertiser. “The experience was as much psychological as anything, you’re not a passenger or a pilot in a Spitfire, you’re a part of it.

Alan Taylor (86) in the cockpit of a Spitfire flying over LancashireAlan Taylor (86) in the cockpit of a Spitfire flying over Lancashire
Alan Taylor (86) in the cockpit of a Spitfire flying over Lancashire

“The Spitfire is famously lightweight so it’s quite a tight fit, but it really is a gorgeous, almost mythical, machine.”

Alan, who previously lived in Ribchester for 35 years, grew up in soutch Cheshire and attended the same school as Reginald Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire.

He added: “I was born in 1938 and from around 1942 was aware of the Spitfire and have been amazed by it ever since. It was a real treat to fly over some local landmarks, particularly Pendle Hill where I’m sure the walkers had a tremendous view of us.”

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Alan’s adventure first presented itself when he and his wife were visiting the Spitfire Visitor Centre at Blackpool Airport three months ago. Alan spotted a poster advertising ‘Spitfire of the North’ - a new experience that gives people the opportunity to fly in a Spitfire - and immediately booked a flight.

“The visibility was unbelievable. It was crystal clear,” he said.

“At one point we were banked at about 50 degrees curling around Pendle before diving over to Downham Hall. Then I took over the controls and flew straight over St Leonard's Church and back to the street party in Barrow.”

Alan is no stranger to remarkable exploits. The former managing director of Baxenden Chemicals in Accrington, began researching viruses at UCLan and Oxford University after retiring at 60.

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But the father-of-two said he would never forget his Spitfire experience, especially when the pilot offered to perform some aerobatics.

“I can remember looking at my feet and wondering why I could see the clouds.”

The full documentary about Alan’s experience is available on ShotsTV at https://www.shotstv.com/watch/vod/52439234.

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