An aviation enthusiast has built his own Spitfire in his garage for £18,000.
Alan James, 63, from Reading, Berkshire, always wanted to fly a Spitfire, but was disappointed to learn a two-day course would cost £5,000 and he would only get 40 minutes’ flying time.
So he decided to build his own and fly it himself.
Four years ago, he paid £150 for plans from the Light Aircraft Association and refitted the garage at his home into a DIY aircraft plant.
He began working on the plane in his spare time but eventually gave up his driving instructor business to finish the aircraft.
It includes a 100hp Rolls Royce engine which he sourced in the Netherlands and then rebuilt, as well as wheels from eBay and seat belts that were specially made in the US.
It took three years to build and Mr James took to the sky in the one-seater aircraft for the first time in September 2015.
The plane is an Isaacs Spitfire – a 6/10th model of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire – which was designed as a single-seat replica to be built at home.
Mr James’s plane has been flown by an ex-RAF test pilot to clear it for aerobatics and he has already clocked up 60 hours of flying time.
“Like every true Brit I wanted to fly a Spitfire,” said Mr James.
“Five years ago you could only get a flight in one if you enrolled in a two-day course. It cost £5,000 and you only got 40 minutes flying the Spitfire.
“So I thought about it and realised I could spend that money on building one.
“I built it purely because I wanted to build it.
“I like making model planes. I’ve been doing it since a lad – but full-size planes interest me too.
“But you cannot just build a plane and fly it – there are very strict rules.
“The aircraft was inspected numerous times during construction and then checked again by a different inspector when completed to obtain CAA certification.
“So far I have flown it around the West Country, Northampton and the Isle of Wight.
“It’s a single cockpit plane so it’s just for me.”
The Isaacs Spitfire weighs 500kg, has a top speed of 160mph and can reach 10,000ft.
Mr James keeps the plane in a hanger at a private airstrip in Berkshire.
“This is the first time an Isaacs Spitfire has been completed and flown since the prototype was built more than 40 years ago,” he said.
“In fact, it’s probably the only one that’s flying in the world today and I feel very proud to be the builder and pilot of this aircraft.
“I found the whole project challenging and very satisfying and now I’m flying most weekends.”