‘The Few’ Down To Four


As the 79th anniversary of one of the most critical air battles ever fought nears in early September, the number of Battle of Britain pilots here to mark the date has dwindled to four. Canada’s last surviving Battle of Britain pilot John Hart died earlier this month at the age of 102. The remaining four live in the U.K. Hart was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a combat career that started in Spitfires in the famous air battle over England in 1940 and closed with him being released from the RAF as commander of a squadron of P-51 Mustangs in Italy. He scored numerous victories in the European, Indian and Burmese theatres. He flew hundreds of sorties in fighter, bomber escort and ground attack roles.

To celebrate his 100th birthday in 2016, a spry and active Hart went for a flight in a Harvard, the Canadian version of the T-6 trainer, at an airport near his home in Penticton, B.C., describing it as like flying a logging truck compared to his favorite mount, the Spitfire. AVweb was at the Oliver Flight Fest where Hart took his ride and prepared the video above.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.