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The 19th October 2011 saw the official opening by HRH Prince Micheal of Kent of the "Grandma Flew Spitfires" exhibition and archive at The Maidenhead Heritage Centre.
Dedicated to the men and women of the Air Transport Auxiliary, a civilian organisation which ferried aircraft from their factories to airfields, freeing up trained RAF and RN pilots for combat duty. Flying a huge variety of craft , in many of which they had no experience, they relied upon their skills and a thin volume of Ferry Pilots Notes.
The Maidenhead Heritage Museum holds one of the largest collections of ATA memorabilia and records in the world, including many log books whose succinct entries are true eye openers into the skills exhibited by these pilots.
Central to the exhibition is the Spitfire simulator, which consists of a Spitsim fitted into a Creative Cockpits Spitfire with a five screen display - virtual cockpit instrument panel, a three screen pilot's view and an overhead screen allowing spectators to view the flight from an outside perspective.
This creates an incredibly immersive experience - one, which for a small charge, is available to anyone visiting the museum.
The exhibition is well worth a visit, giving a facinating insight into the lives of these unsung heroes whose motto was Aetheris Avidi - Eager for the Air.
If you're eager for the air why not call in and give the simulator a try - pilot's notes not required.
Jon's test flight of a Spitfire Mk Tr9 - purely in the interest of Spitsim improvement!