In a special communication to Pilot magazine, Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security, has expressed his enthusiasm for historic aviation and commitment to supporting the sector    

‘The description “legend” is over-used,’ writes the Minister ‘but if ever an aircraft deserved that title, it is the Spitfire. Earlier this year, we celebrated the 85th anniversary of R J Mitchell’s masterpiece. This iconic aircraft and hero, alongside the Hurricane of the Battle of Britain – is more than just an aeronautical triumph and a machine of unparalleled beauty. The Spitfire is now a part of our national identity: a flying, living reminder of this country’s sternest and finest hour. 

‘And it is because of these very reasons, woven deep in the fabric of our nation, that I excitedly welcome the cautious return of heritage aviation, both in the air and on the ground. We will once again be able to explore museums and heritage sites across Britain and reconnect, up close, with the smell and atmosphere that only vintage aviation can provide. That’s everything from the wood and cloth of the trenches, to the 1920s’ beautiful biplanes, to Second World War classics such as the Hurricane and Lancaster, through to the Cold Warriors: Hunter; Lightning; and of course, the mighty Vulcan. 

 ‘Like all of you, I hope not to be just a visitor at aircraft shows this year, but to hear the sounds of engines coming to life for air shows in the summer sun. And yes, I remain optimistic that many will be able to go ahead. But I can never promise you the weather… 

 ‘Historic aviation restoration and heritage projects undertaken across the country not only help remind us all of the importance of honouring our nation’s glorious aviation history, but are also vital to inspire the next generation of engineers, pilots, aviation enthusiasts and professionals, as well as supporting local tourism and the creation of jobs. I know many of you share my experience of spending hours reading about the accomplishments of Hurricanes, Spitfires, Mustangs and more, having been inspired by the ones I saw flying above me at air shows as a child and more recently. But it is to the future of aviation that we must now look. 

 ‘We recently published our General Aviation Roadmap, setting out our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world for General Aviation. As we gradually reopen the economy, skills and jobs will be essential in helping the sector not only recover, but prosper and innovate. Historic Aviation, and General Aviation more widely, will play a major role in that, as crucial entry points for careers and the development of skills in the sector. On top of that, many of the airfields and sites that are used to house, restore, and maintain our wonderful aviation heritage, are also centres of innovation as we drive towards a greener future. As we set out in the roadmap, our work to protect these assets, as well as the development of skills, are vital steps on the road to recovery.   

‘In addition, we are looking to support the historic aviation industry in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority, through a communications campaign to promote the benefits of the sector, such helping the development of skills in the aviation industry, as well as a wider programme of work that will help the sector thrive.   

 ‘Together, we will ensure that the past inspires the future, and create a brighter aviation future for all.’ 

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