Two killed as Spitfire crashes

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The Independent Online

Two men died when a rare Spitfire fighter plane crashed in flames yesterday as they tried to land at a West Sussex airfield.

Two men died when a rare Spitfire fighter plane crashed in flames yesterday as they tried to land at a West Sussex airfield.

The MK9 Spitfire - one of three two-seater versions still flying - had been performing circuits and was making its final approach when it clipped a tree on the boundary at Goodwood, just after 9am.

The plane crashed down a bank, ploughed through a fence and skidded across the racetrack, which was not in use, and ended upside down in flames 50 yards short of the end of the runway.

Firefighters arrived in minutes but found one man had been killed instantly. The second died soon afterwards.

The Second World War fighter, converted to a two-seater for long-range photo reconnaissance, was finally restored two years ago and had an impressive combat history during the war. It had been sold to an American but it is believed a wealthy British enthusiast was its regular pilot.

The Supermarine Spitfire entered RAF service at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, in 1938, and earned its accolade as the most famous fighter of all time, thanks to its contribution in the Battle of Britain.

The Spitfire will forever be seen as a symbol of British defiance in the face of almost-impossible odds.

Ten days ago an identical Spitfire suffered £100,000 damage when owner and pilot Carolyn Grace hit a parked helicopter on Duxford taxi-way.

Some sources said one of yesterday's victims was a businessman who bought the plane only last week. Police say the dead will be named once next of kin have been contacted.

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