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Spitfire MH434

There are some things which don't change. Every year, since the very beginning, we've asked the same question; can the most famous single engined aircraft in history display.

Somehow, thanks to Sarah Carr (nee Hanna)'s generosity, the answer has always been 'yes'.

Sarah's aircraft, you see, belonged to her Father, the late Ray Hanna. Ray was the leader of the Red Arrows, amongst a litany of other achievements out of the realm of mere mortals.

But it was his relationship with his Spitfire Mk9, MH434 which made movie history and entered folklore.

The movie career of this aircraft encompasses pretty much every time you've seen a Spitfire in a movie. The list of titles includes Battle of Britain to The Longest Day and would take up most of this page.

MH434, with Ray aboard also entered folklore. The Goodwood Revival is, today, the largest event held to an historic theme on Earth. It's also a masterpiece propelled into mythology with the help of moments that cannot occur elsewhere. They usually involve priceless racing cars, but the first Revival's piece of history came courtesy of Ray and 434. He flew down the start finish straight so low the surrounding flagpoles and buildings were visibly way higher than the wingtips. You can buy pictures of it, and the rules mean it can never happen again. Shame is that everyone assumes the pictures were photoshopped; they weren't. He really did it aboard an aircraft which he could place within millimeters. When Ray passed away 434 was taxied along the start finish straight in the most moving memorial, attended by 85,000 people. Goodwood was a moment which caused anyone who knows anything about aviation to simply declare Ray the greatest warbird pilot in history; a fact, rather than an opinion, which will remain so likely for the rest of time.

The other inescapable fact is that MH434 is the greatest example (the only one flying to have never ben fully restored) of quite probably the greatest aircraft ever made. She's not only a movie star but a war hero with a truly legendary history, dating back before she belonged to Ray, but it is in the hands of the Hanna family that she truly became, let's be honest, the greatest aircraft of them all.

By more than great good fortune we've also found ourselves in some serious company; we're the aircraft's third most frequent 'customer' after Duxford and, funnily enough, the Goodwood Revival.


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