A life-size Spitfire replica due at Asda

Spitfire 'Portadown', which was paid for by the hugely successful Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund.
Spitfire 'Portadown', which was paid for by the hugely successful Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund.

A Spitfire from the Ulster Aviation Society is landing at Portadown’s Asda store this Saturday.

The Ulster Aviation Society (UAS) is bringing its impressive, full-sized replica to the Asda parking lot, offering visitors the chance to see for themselves what this champion of the Royal Air Force actually looked like.
The Spitfire is an exact copy of the type which gained its fame in the Battle of Britain, 75 years ago this summer. It was during that conflict that local hero, Robert Turkington, enlisted in the RAF.

Squadron Leader Turkington, whose family had roots in Derrytrasna, flew Spitfires through most of World War Two - accounting for several enemy aircraft through what one citation in 1944 called “a fine example of skill, determination and devotion to duty.” Turkington died tragically just after the German surrender in 1945, when his Spitfire lost power just after takeoff and crashed in Italy.

“It’s to the memory of sacrifices like that which we are dedicating our Spitfire,” said Ray Burrows, Chairman of the Ulster Aviation Society.

“The UAS is proud to play a part in that tribute.

During the war, one Spitfire was named ‘Portadown’ in honour of the many people and businesses from the area who contributed to a special appeal.

The UAS’s Spitfire has been painted in the markings of another Spitfire from that campaign named ‘Down’, which had a tragic connection to Portadown. The original aircraft came to grief in an accident about four miles north of the town at Derrymacash on January 7 1942, killing its Canadian pilot, Walter McManus. His grave is in a County Down churchyard.

Visitors of all ages will be invited to clamber into the cockpit from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, with members on hand to provide information.