Spitfire formation flies over Portsmouth area - but too high for many

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Seven Spitfires and a Hurricane flew over the Portsmouth area today in a Battle of Britain tribute.

Crowds gathered to watch them from vantage points including Portsdown Hill and Southsea seafront but a combination of cloudy skies and high altitudes kept by the pilots meant that many struggled to see the display.

The aircraft were part of a 24-plane flight that split three ways after taking off from Biggin Hill in Kent at around 1pm.

The eight planes heading west and then south flew as far as the Isle of Wight at around 1.25pm before the loop back high across the Portsmouth area for the flight home.

Glen Saxton, 57, of Southsea, was among the hundreds of onlookers who had gathered along Southsea seafront to watch the flyby.

Like many others, Mr Saxton said he felt let down the Spitfires did not fly closer to the seafront.

He said: ‘I was quite disappointed, although you did see them in the distance. It’s a great shame because a lot of people would have travelled down here just to see them.

‘But never mind.’

‘You do sometimes see Spitfires come along the seafront and it’s tremendous’.

Pam Wilkinson, 72, had driven down from Hedge End to watch the flyby.

Mrs Wilkinson said Spitfires were a favourite of her husband, Ken, who died three years ago.

She said she was disappointed the planes did not fly closer to Southsea Common.

‘It would have been nice if they had come over,’ she said.

‘I expected them at least to circle around.’

Victoria Janice, 70, from Cosham, said: ‘It would have been nice if they had come over closer and we could have seen more of them.

‘Oh well, at least we still saw them fly past.’

Derrick Ward, 66, from Lee-on-the-Solent, was also there.

Mr Ward said he was also disappointed there was not more to see, but said the Spitfire still held a special place in Britain’s history.

He said: ‘There’s not that many left now, and I suppose one day they are going to disappear completely.

‘It’s incredible when you think the pilots were only 19 or 20 and they might have only had nine hours flight training before they went up there.

‘I’m a microlight pilot myself and what they did is a lot different to what we do.’

Among those expressing disappointment on The News Facebook page was Vicky Ricketts, who said: I stood on top of Portsdown Hill but only saw some dots in the distance and certainly didn’t hear them. It was most disappointing considering they were meant to fly over Portsmouth.’

Kieran Drew said: ‘From Southsea I saw seven dots in the distance.’

And Stacey Mckenna added: ‘I cCouldn’t even see them at the Round Tower - I’m very disappointed.’

But others, including people who watched at Havant, said they had a spectacular view of the flight.

Pete Whittle said: ‘They flew over my house in Havant - it was a magnificent sight.’

And Maggie Hellier said: ‘It was a fantastic sight. I saw them from my back garden in Eastney.’

Ed Phoenix Burns added: ‘I saw them twice in Emsworth - lovely and low. It was a wonderful sight and sound.’

The commemoration flights were organised to mark the 75th anniversary of the fiercest day’s fighting in the Battle of Britain.

Main picture by Paul Fouch

Picture of flypast by Jason Kay

Picture of spectators waiting at Southsea by Malcolm Wells