BBMF – “The Few That Enable The Many”

4th September 2021

We were delighted to finally be able to meet our Patron, Squadron Leader Mandy Singleton, at a special gathering of invited guests. Mandy, the Senior Engineering Officer for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, was with her team of engineers at Bournemouth Air Festival making sure that one of the BBMF Spitfires (Mark IX MK356), the Hurricane and Dakota were ready to fly each day.

After a day of flying, she and her O/C at the BBMF, Sqn. Ldr. Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe, drove over to Southampton, the Home of the Spitfire, and gave an enthralling talk about the history of the BBMF, their different planes and how they maintain and fly them. The title of their presentation was “The Few that Enable the Many” reflecting the way that the small team of the BBMF display their planes to many millions each year. (The credo of the Spitfire Makers is in fact the opposite: we seek to commemorate the Many who helped build the plane for the famous Few to fly.)

The talk was followed by a lively Q&A session which included questions on the Spitfire drop tanks from our Honorary President, Don Smith. Don made drop tanks and air filters in the back streets of Southampton as a fourteen year old apprentice more than 80 years ago.

Mandy and Mark stayed on to draw the winning tickets for the Raffle. First prize was a signed print of a BBMF Spitfire (kindly donated) but there was also a delicious Spitfire Ale hamper, a Spitfire Makers cake and a signed copy of “Spitfire Kids” by Alasdair Cross (in which Don Smith’s story is mentioned).

Even then they couldn’t get away before they had given more of their time to talk to a queue of individuals, young and old, keen to ask “just one more question”! This was typical of their modest, generous and unassuming manner and on behalf of them both Mark said, “It was our pleasure and engaging with groups like the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust is one of the better parts of the job. I look forward to meeting up again before I hand over the reins. ”One of the highlights of the evening was to have several former Supermarine workers with us and even more of their family members.

(Due to Covid protocols at the venue, it was regretfully not possible to advertise the event publicly and attendance was arranged by direct invitation only. As restrictions ease, Spitfire Makers hope to be able to hold similar events within the city and to open these to general admission.)

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