British pilots return home after WW2 Spitfire completes round the world trip

Steve Brooks and Matt Jones stopped off briefly in Abu Dhabi before completing their mission

Two British pilots have landed in south-east England after completing the first ever flight around the world in a World War Two Spitfire.

Pilots Steve Brooks and Matt Jones landed in Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex on Wednesday, exactly four months after they set off on their epic journey.

The aircraft, known as the MJ271, has flown on 51 combat missions and dive-bombed German targets in France during the Second World War.

It has now been dubbed "The Silver Spitfire" because it was stripped of its paint to make it less provocative.

The 76-year-old restored jet flew 43,000 kilometres in a 74-leg journey through 24 countries. The aircraft left Goodwood in August, before flying across Greenland and crossing the Atlantic to the United States via New York, Las Vegas and California. The Spitfire then flew north before heading westward into Russia.

The pilots encountered some difficulties over Japan, where they had to avoid a tycoon, before making their way across the rest of Asia.

After a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi, they flew across Europe to return to the UK.

Crowds and banners awaited the aircraft at the Goodwood runway, congratulating the pilots.

epa07758555 A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) showing Matt Jones (L) and Steve Brooks (R) in front of their Silver Spitfire before taking off on their round the world flight, at Goodwood Aerodrome, Hampshire, southern England, 05 August 2019, issued 06 August 2019. The MOD report that in 2019 the two aviators will attempt to fly a Silver Spitfire around the world, taking in some of the most famous landmarks on the planet from the Grand Canyon in the West to the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji in the East. The Spitfire is a British treasure and an emblem of freedom across the globe. The Silver Spitfire expedition will hopefully promote the ‘Best of British’ worldwide showcasing the nation’s heritage in engineering excellence, and an aircraft that changed the course of history. The Spitfire embodies not only a pinnacle in aerospace engineering and design but commemorates a generation of intrepid aviators prepared to stand up to oppression and make the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of freedom. The expedition will reunite the Spitfire with the many countries that owe their freedom, at least in part, to this iconic aircraft. The unmistakable sight and sound of this aircraft once again gracing the skies aims to inspire future generations more than eighty years after R.J. Mitchell’s timeless design first graced the skies.  EPA/SAC ED WRIGHT RAF / BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE / HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

“What a welcome!” said Mr Jones, who was controlling the aircraft through the final stretch of its journey. “After such a whirlwind of a trip, it feels quite surreal to be back at Goodwood with our mission accomplished. The scenery, the places we’ve visited, the people we have met, have been truly life-changing.

“From flying past the Statue of Liberty to coasting over the frozen plains of Russia and the jungles of Asia, we have been lucky enough to see the earth in all its beauty, all whilst sitting in the most gorgeous Spitfire. It’s been an unforgettable experience.”

Mr Brooks called it “an incredible adventure” and offered his gratitude to family and friends for their support.