Spitfire war hero and legend of aviation dies aged 94

28th February 2007

Beautiful: RAF Spitfire

The man who flew more Spitfires in World War Two than any other pilot has died at the age of 94.

The name of Alex Henshall is synonomous with the Spitfire and its crucial role in helping to defeat the Luftwaffe and win the Battle of Britain.

He was chief test pilot at the Supermarine factory in Castle Bromwich and flew an estimated 3,000 Spitfires in his career.

But he also set a number of astonishing flying records in the pioneering days of aviation.

A Spitfire shoots down a German plane during the Battle of Britain, a WWII aerial battle between Britain and Germany that took place in the skies above southern England.

At the age of 25 he won the King's Cup air race and in 1939 flew solo to Cape Town and back in a tiny Mew Gull plane setting a time and speed record that still stands today.

He also flew Wellington and Lancaster bombers and such was his experience and knowledge that the RAF Museum at Hendon is currently setting up a special archive to mark his achievements.

A curator was taken on especially for the task of collating all the flier's papers, photographs, paintings and logs - a task which is expected to take five year to complete.

Only last year the veteran flier piloted a Spitfire over the old Supermarine works at Southampton to mark the 70th anniversary of the first Spitfire taking to the air.

His co-pilot reported afterwards that Alex was as competent as ever at the controls - and could have landed the plane but for prohibitive insurance conditions.

Modest to the last the veteran pilot said: "It is really no different to operating a car."

Alex Henshaw died at the weeklend at the Suffolk home where he had lived for the last twenty years.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 28th, 2007 at 12:49 PM..