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Race against time to buy Spitfire
28 Sep 2007 12:39 BST

Aviation enthusiasts in Pembrokeshire are racing against the clock to raise funds to buy a World War II Spitfire.

They are £65,000 short of the £150,000 needed, and have until Sunday morning to find the rest of the money.

When fully restored, they hope the plane will take pride of place in a museum they are planning at Withybush Aerodrome just outside Haverfordwest.

The iconic planes had a significant role in WWII, but it is estimated only about 200 still exist.

Ray Burgess of the Pembrokeshire Aviation Foundation, which is trying to raise the money, 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, but he said securing a Spitfire would be the icing on the cake.

The plane is being sold by a private owner in Oxford and Mr Burgess said if they failed to come up with the money they fear it could be bought by an enthusiast abroad.

"We heard about it about 10 days ago but we could only view it last Tuesday," he said.

"Since then we decided to start an appeal to raise £150,000. Certainly the clock is ticking.

"The Spitfire was undoubtedly the key that helped us win the last world war."

He said they estimated it would cost around £400,000 to fully restore, with the aim of ensuring it could fly again.

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 underway in Pembrokeshire include efforts to develop Carew Airfield, which was a WWII base, and efforts to raise one of the last existing Sunderland sea planes from the sea bed off Pembroke Dock.

"It [the Spitfire] would be a magnet as far as attracting people to west Wales. Many parts of Wales are in the tourism business and Pembrokeshire is definitely in the tourism business."