Two-Seat Supermarine Spitfire Going To Auction

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It may be the first time in more than 20 years that a two-seat Supermarine Spitfire has gone to auction and the current example (once stationed at RAF Lyneham in 1944) is expecting to draw bids of more than $2.1 million, next month. Some estimates put the number of flying two-seat Spits at seven (flying single-seaters may number closer to 60). That, from some 22,000 Spitfires flown between March 1936 and 1957. But this particular aircraft did not begin its life as one of the roughly 20 two-seat Spits originally built; it was born as a Mark IX. Classic Aero Engineering was hired by the aircraft's recent owner, Paul Portelli, to restore the aircraft and transform it into a two-seater. That process took seven years, and outlived Portelli, but met the authenticity requirements demanded by CAA to certify the aircraft as an airworthy genuine Spitfire. As such, the auction's lucky winner can expect to carry an annual insurance policy in the $70,000 range for serial number SM520 and about that much for annual maintenance. Fuel will be extra, provided the buyer has the fortitude (and skill) to risk flying the aircraft at all. The auction will be held by Bonhams' at the RAF Museum in Hendon, April 20.

As for learning to fly it, Peter Tuplin, managing director of Classic Aero Engineering, which handled the aircraft's complete restoration, told the DailyMail.co.uk that he can teach straight and level flight, but not how to land. "It's very easy to fly, but it's also very easy to get into trouble with," said Tuplin.