The winners of the Express competition will have the opportunity to fly in a Spitfire for the first time.
Andy Andrews, a hero of the Royal Air Force, joked that picking winners for the Daily Express Spitfire competition was “one of the most dangerous things” he’d ever done.
At the fabled Biggin Hill fighter station in Kent, the 97-year-old World War II veteran drew names from a hat full of 850 hopefuls.
Gary Burnett of Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, and Stella Snow of March, Cambs, will now reach for the sky in an awe-inspiring experience shared by only a few people.
“I’d say it was even more nerve-racking than jumping out of a downed Halifax bomber,” Andy said of his mission.
We teamed up with flyaspitfire.com, which is based at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, to offer the fantastic prize, which is worth £2,975 per flight.
In the skies where The Few risked everything to save Britain from the Luftwaffe in 1940, Stella and Gary will experience a Spitfire victory roll.
“When I first got the email, I thought it was a joke, and I almost deleted it! Now I can’t stop smiling,” Gary, 66, said.
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Andy, from Tonbridge, Kent, enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1942 at the age of 17 and served in Bomber Command, surviving 19 missions.
In 1945, however, his luck ran out when his plane was shot down by a German night fighter off the coast of Denmark, resulting in a massive fire at 18,000 feet.
Andy and two others managed to flee before the bomber detonated, killing the four men inside, including Andy and his companions.
He was befriended by a Danish family who drove him to the hospital, but he was apprehended by the Gestapo and held as a prisoner of war until the Americans liberated him.
“Nothing beats the sound of a Second World War plane, and the smell of oil transports me back in time,” Andy said.
“It felt great to be with my friends.”
If I could, I’d jump back into one of these magnificent planes and take off again.”
Participants in the Spitfire competition were asked to donate to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
“It is our pleasure to give this lucky couple the opportunity to fly in a Spitfire and to send much-needed revenue to the fund,” Robin Brooks, of the Biggin heritage hangar, said.