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By Paul Jansen
December 10, 2013
Brad Pitt is said to have bought an icon of World War II, a Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft, for 2 million pounds Sterling.
He joins another Hollywood A-lister actor, Tom Cruise, in the tiny group of pilot-owners of World War II planes. Cruise has a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.
Pitt’s, however, is far more rare. News reports say he will keep it at the Boultbee Flight Academy in England.
Boultbee is the only Spitfire training school in the world. It was established by property investor Steve Boultbee Brooks after he bought a Spitfire at an auction and was encouraged by his chief pilot, Matt Jones, to share it with others, like this writer, who had only dreamed of ever flying one.
The school operates out of the Goodwood Estate aerodrome, which was one of the satellite airfields of the Royal Air Force during the war.
Boultbee is amply qualified to teach Pitt to fly his Spitfire. It has a core group of professional pilots, many from the air force, who have clocked hours on the vintage type. The school’s own two-seater Spitfire TR9 plane, G-ILDA, is one of only six airworthy Spitfire trainers in the world today. When I did the course, it used another TR9, G-CCCA, from a nearby aerodrome, so that we could do Spitfire formation flights.
The school appears keen to expand its own fleet. It recently invited those who had gone through its training course to take a share in a consortium which would pool resources to buy another Spitfire, which would then join G-ILDA.
Pitt’s companion, actress Angelina Jolie, is a long-time pilot, having obtained her Private Pilot’s Licence eight years ago. Jolie owns one of the fastest single piston-engine planes in the world, a Cirrus SR22. The question now is: Will Pitt let her play with his plane?