Sky’s the limit at 102: WWII veteran Jack Hemmings proves age is just a number in aerial feat for charity

Feb 10, 2024
The veteran's age-defying aviation endeavours continue to inspire and captivate the public worldwide. Source: AP PHOTO.

At the remarkable age of 102, Jack Hemmings, a former Royal Air Forces pilot and ex-squadron leader, has defied expectations by taking to the skies in a Spitfire.

The World War II veteran’s 20-minute flight, starting from a southern England airfield on Monday, February 5 not only showcased his resilience but also highlighted his commitment to a charity he co-founded nearly eight decades ago.

Believed to be the oldest pilot to fly a Spitfire, Hemmings expressed his delight at being back in control, despite acknowledging the ride’s occasional bumpiness. His adventurous spirit and determination were evident as he manoeuvred a plane he had never flown before.

“To be honest, it felt a bit rusty. Not surprising I am rusty,” he said.

The airborne feat was not merely a nostalgic venture; it also served a charitable purpose. The funds raised during the flight were dedicated to the Mission Aviation Fellowship, a humanitarian air service co-launched by Hemmings after World War II. Originally established to provide relief, medicine, and emergency cargo to nations in need, the organisation has evolved into a Christian mission.

The flight, which also commemorated 80 years since the D-Day landings and paid tribute to Hemmings’ late comrade Stuart King, received widespread praise from the public.

Hemmings’ past feats, including aerobatics on his 100th birthday that raised substantial funds for the charity, attest to his enduring commitment and passion.

Accompanied by pilot Barry Hughes, who praised Hemmings’ “natural touch” and seamless control during the flight, the veteran’s age-defying aviation endeavours continue to inspire and captivate the public worldwide.

-with AP.

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