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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Deal struck to buy rare Spitfire
A Spitfire (generic)
The plane will be restored so it could take to the skies again
Aviation enthusiasts in Pembrokeshire have bought a World War II Spitfire after a race against the clock to raise money.

The group had just four days to get the 150,000 needed after one of the iconic planes was put up for sale.

They raised 90,000 and struck a deal with its owner to pay the remaining 60,000 within the next six months.

Once restored, the Spitfire will be the key attraction in a museum planned for Withybush Aerodrome near Haverfordwest.

Ray Burgess, of the Pembrokeshire Aviation Foundation, said they were "shell-shocked" after learning on Sunday that their deal had been accepted.

They had only launched their appeal for money on Wednesday after they heard a private owner in Oxford was selling the Spitfire.

The Spitfire will be a major key for the museum - a magnet to draw people in. Not many people have seen a Spitfire fly and we hope we'll be able to fly it at shows
Ray Burgess, Pembrokeshire Aviation Foundation

They feared that if they failed to come up with the money by Sunday's deadline it could be bought by an enthusiast abroad.

"We were optimistic we would raise the money but we also had to be realistic," said Mr Burgess.

"The Spitfire will be a major key for the museum - a magnet to draw people in. Not many people have seen a Spitfire fly and we hope we'll be able to fly it at shows."

The plane is currently dismantled and Mr Burgess said they will not be able to take delivery of its main fuselage until the remaining 60,000 has been paid.

Tiger moth

He said the first 90,000 was raised largely thanks to an anonymous benefactor but he hopes enthusiasts will be able to raise the rest of the money through donations

Mr Burgess said it was hoped to open the museum within five years.

It already has a Bulldog and is taking delivery of a Tiger Moth shortly.

Mr Burgess said it was thought there were only 200 Spitfires, including those flying, on display or under restoration, still in existence.

"It comes with a complete certified history," he added.

"It is in good condition, but having said that, it is a restoration project and it is going to take a little while to put it back together."

As well as plans for the museum at Haverfordwest, other aviation projects under way in Pembrokeshire include efforts to develop Carew Airfield, a WWII base, and an attempt to raise one of the last existing Sunderland sea planes from the sea bed off Pembroke Dock.

SEE ALSO
Spitfire's fly-past for memorial
24 May 07 |  South East Wales
Vintage plane back at WWII base
23 Aug 05 |  South West Wales

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