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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 12:41 GMT
Boost to Spitfire inventor's name
RJ Mitchell
Reginald Mitchell died just over a year after the first Spitfire took off
An American billionaire wants to spend millions of pounds to raise the profile of Spitfire inventor Reginald Mitchell from Stoke-on-Trent.

Sidney Frank, 85, who made his money selling drinks, has started a project to teach school pupils around this country about his achievements.

Mr Frank has also commissioned a statue of him for London's Science Museum.

He has told Mr Mitchell's family that he thinks the aircraft pioneer is as important as Sir Winston Churchill.

The American is also planning a memorial fund in the inventor's name.

'Quite amazed'

Mr Mitchell was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 38 as he started work on what was to become his greatest creation.

He died in 1937, just over 12 months after the Spitfire took to the skies. The aircraft later played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain in World War II.

Reginald's son, Gordon, says he is pleased about the billionaire's plans because his own efforts to preserve his father's memory have not been that successful.

He added: "He'd be quite amazed and would have been rather surprised altogther.

"I was fighting for some sort of official honour - for example a posthumous knighthood.

"But in my attempts to contact the state, the Cabinet Office, and Buckingham Palace, it was always the same answer - honours have never been issued posthumously and never will be."

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20 Sep 03 |  Staffordshire


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