General aviation in the United Kingdom
has been defined as a civil aircraft
operation other than a commercial air transport
flight operating to a schedule. Although the International Civil Aviation Organization
excludes any form of remunerated aviation from its definition, some commercial operations are often included within the scope of general aviation in the UK
. The sector operates business jets
and jet-engined fixed-wing aircraft
of all descriptions, and lighter than air
craft. Public transport operations include business (or corporate) aviation and air taxi
services, and account for nearly half of the economic contribution made by the sector. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence
holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots
. Although GA operates from more than 1,800 aerodromes
and landing sites, ranging in size from large regional airports
to farm strips, over 80 per cent of GA activity is conducted at 134 of the larger aerodromes. GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority
, although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency
. The main focus is on standards of airworthiness
and pilot licensing
, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety.
The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in World War II.
Produced by Supermarine, the Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell, who continued to refine it until his death from cancer in 1937. The elliptical wing had a thin cross-section, allowing a faster top speed than the Hurricane and other contemporary designs; it also resulted in a distinctive appearance. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service during the whole of World War II, in all theatres of war, and in many different variants.
More than 20,300 examples of all variants were built, including two-seat trainers, with some Spitfires remaining in service well into the 1950s. It was the only fighter aircraft to be in continual production before, during and after the war.
The aircraft was dubbed Spitfire by Sir Robert MacLean, director of Vickers (the parent company of Supermarine) at the time, and on hearing this, Mitchell is reported to have said, "...sort of bloody silly name they would give it." The word dates from Elizabethan times and refers to a particularly fiery, ferocious type of person, usually a woman. The name had previously been used unofficially for Mitchell's earlier F.7/30 Type 224 design.
The prototype (K5054) first flew on March 5, 1936, from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport). Testing continued until May 26, 1936, when Mutt Summers (Chief Test Pilot for Vickers (Aviation) Ltd.) flew K5054 to Martlesham and handed the aircraft over to Squadron Leader Anderson of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE).
- Length: 29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
- Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
- Number Built: 20,351 (excluding Seafires)
- Maximum speed: 330 knots (378 mph, 605 km/h)
- Maiden flight: March 5, 1936
- Powerplant: 1× Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 supercharged V12 engine, 1470 hp at 9250 ft (1096 kW at 2820 m)