When you'll be able to see Spitfire fly over Ilkeston this weekend

Spitfire (front) flying alongside a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, over RAF Conningsby
Spitfire (front) flying alongside a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, over RAF Conningsby. Both historic planes will fly over Maurice Lea Memorial Park, in Church Gresley, near Swadlincote, this weekend. -Credit:SAC Neil Chapman/MoD Crown Copyright/PA Wire

People will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Royal Air Force's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight when a Spitfire takes to the skies this weekend. Operating from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, the flight operates six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota, and two Chipmunk aircraft.

These aircraft can be regularly seen in the skies over the UK from May to September each year. They are often flown to celebrate and commemorate public and military events.

But on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6, to celebrate Britain's oldest Second World War veteran who happens to reside on the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border, two Spitfires will fly over Ilkeston.

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Ex-Desert Rat Donald Rose is 109 and lives in Canal Vue care home on Awsworth Road. To honour the veteran two of the iconic warplanes will be in local airspace at around 1.45pm on May 6, as part of a larger wartime-themed celebration in the town.

Donald is the world’s fourth-oldest surviving Second World War veteran. He was born in 1914 and served on the frontline with the 7th Armoured Division after joining the Queen’s Royal Regiment. He saw action in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany – later training as a sniper.

Photo of Donald Rose as a young soldier
Donald Rose as a young soldier -Credit:Donald Rose / Erewash BC

The dad of one, whose wife died in 2001, was repeatedly decorated, including being given France’s highest award – the Legion D'Honneur. But his son David Rose, 74 – a retired NHS hospital technician living in West Hallam – said: “He didn’t want the medals, he wanted no fuss and he just got on with it.”

Donald has said when quizzed in the past about his longevity: “Everyone asks this – there’s no secret.”

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) was inaugurated on 11 July 1957 at RAF Biggin Hill. It was initially called the RAF Historic Aircraft Flight and consisted of three PR Mk XIX Spitfires and the RAF’s last airworthy Hurricane, LF363. It was then renamed to be the Battle of Britain Flight before a final renaming in 1969 to what it is known as today, BBMF.