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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
'Proud' pilots ready for funeral flypast
Squadron Leader Brian Clark at RAF Coningsby
Squadron Leader Brian Clark prepares for the flypast
Pilots at a Lincolnshire airbase are preparing to pay the Royal Air Force's last respects to the Queen Mother with a ceremonial flypast after her funeral.

Two Spitfires and the UK's only remaining airworthy Lancaster are due to fly over the cortege as it leaves Westminster Abbey on Tuesday.

Crews from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight based at RAF Coningsby were on Monday being briefed on their role.

Squadron Leader Paul Day, who will fly one of the Spitfires, said the crews were preparing for an emotional but professional mission.

Squadron Leader Paul Day checks a Spitfire
Squadron Leader Paul Day will fly one of the Spitfires

Asked if he was proud to be taking part, Squadron Leader Day replied: "Absolutely.

"You don't every day get chosen to take part in an event of such importance."

He said he and fellow pilots Squadron Leader Stuart Reid, who will fly the Lancaster, and Squadron Leader Clive Rowley, were "keyed up but ready to go".

"There will be considerable emotion - it is a professional mission, but it will be an emotional one too.

"It's a little sad, but the late Queen Mother was a fervent supporter of the armed forces so this will be our tribute."

The draft plans for the flypast were drawn up some time ago.

The Queen Mother
'A fervent supporter of the armed forces'

They were finalised in recent days, and approved by the Queen on Saturday.

The three planes will leave RAF Coningsby at 1150 BST and fly to Wanstead Flats, north-east London, where they will form a "holding pattern".

Once they receive the call that the cortege is leaving Westminster Abbey, they will commence their journey.

They are due to fly over the cortege as it is half-way between Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace at 1242 BST.

They will fly at a height of 1,000 feet, with the Lancaster at the front and the two Spitfires 10 feet away at each wing tip.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was formed in 1957 in remembrance of aircrews who have died in service.

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