Spitfire memorial campaigner gets to fly a real one

Grangemouth Air Cadets champion Tom McMorrow takes a flight in a real Spitfire
Grangemouth Air Cadets champion Tom McMorrow takes a flight in a real Spitfire

He fought and campaigned alongside air cadets to bring a Spitfire memorial to Grangemouth and last week he got to fly one.

Tom McMorrow, who turned 60 earlier this year, would not have asked for any reward for the great job he did while he was in charge of 1333 (Spitfire) Squadron.

But if the Stenhousemuir man could have picked a dream day out it would have been his experience in Sywell, Northampton on October 25.

The flight was organised by Wing Commander Alasdair Beaton and other friends without Tom’s knowledge.

Climbing aboard the historic aircraft with Air Vice Marshal Cliff Spink, one of the country’s leading Spitfire display pilots, Tom realised his long standing ambition.

He said: “The Spitfire really is an astonishing aeroplane and totally deserves its place in history. It was such a privilege to sit in it, far less fly in it.

“By around 5pm when I was taking the last flight of the day, it was in perfectly blue ‘Spitfire skies’. I was completely at peace, as if I was relaxing in an armchair at home.

“Cliff asked if I would like to fly the Spit for a bit and after he’d trimmed her out, I got to fly for a couple of minutes – nothing fancy, just holding her straight and level and gentle turns to right and left. Cliff told me we would be returning to land but instead he performed a fast run over the airfield at low level then broke quickly right and up, into a perfect victory roll – oh, fantastic. It was the best of days.”

While he was commanding officer at 1333 ATC Squadron, Tom was instrumental in an initiative to remember Polish Spitfire pilots and presided over the cadets’ project to create a memorial wall to the RAF Grangemouth Spitfire pilots and bring a full sized replica Spitfire to the town.

Tom stepped down as commanding officer of 1333 Squadron in 2014 to take up the post of Special Projects Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland Region Air Training Corps.

His latest project is the Flying Aces Scheme, which aims to help disadvantaged youngsters, either from troubled backgrounds or with disabilities, learn how to fly an aeroplane

A fundraising dinner at Grangemouth’s Leapark Hotel last month featured guests Air Vice Marshall Ross Paterson and Iraq war veteran Colin McGregor, brother of famous actor Ewan and raised £14,639 for the cause and it looks like the scheme is now cleared for takeoff in January 2017.