Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is an ARCHIVED article at Information and links may well be out of date.

A Polish pilot who led his squadron into battle from RAF Northolt has been reunited at the airbase with the same Spitfire he flew 67 years ago.

Footnote: BAFF highly values its friendly links with today's Polish Armed Forces personnel through Konwent, the Council of Senior Officers of the Polish Professional Soldiers.

From a report by Dan Coombs, Uxbridge Gazette:

Squadron Commander Franciszek Kornicki climbed back into the cockpit of his old aircraft last Friday before it flew off into the sunset once more, saluting those gathered for the annual Battle of Britain reception as it went.

Mr Kornicki, 93, was the youngest squadron commander in the Polish Air Force in 1943. He flew from Northolt on many occasions.

The special reunion of pilot and plane was organised with the help of Mr Kornicki's  son, Richard, honorary secretary of the Polish Air Force Association Trust, and Squadron Leader Richard Willis of RAF Northolt.

Mr Willis told the Gazette: "He has met up with the plane before in Poland but having the reunion here at Northolt, the air-base where he flew from in the Second World War, was very special.

"The Poles made a significant contribution to the war and it was a great opportunity to celebrate, as it is the anniversary of the Battle of Britain as well.

"We later held a reception in the officers' mess with the other Battle of Britain veterans and the Spitfire flew past again and gave us a salute."

The aircraft had been decorated in the colours of Mr Kornicki's 317 Squadron.

In a statement, he said: "It is absolutely wonderful to be reunited with my plane.

"This is a wonderful bird to fly, which I first flew in 1942.

"It brings back lots of memories and everything comes alive again from so many years ago."

On Saturday, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over Ruislip Lido for the annual fun day that was raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.