SLIDESHOW | Restored Spitfire aircraft lands at Louisville's Bow - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SLIDESHOW | Restored Spitfire aircraft lands at Louisville's Bowman Field

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bowman Field got an unexpected visitor Friday afternoon.

A restored Spitfire fighter aircraft landed on Runway 24 at Louisville's general aviation airfield just before 2 p.m. It was there for a brief stop en route to the EAA Oshkosh Airventure airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, set for next week.

Rob Collings, executive director of the Collings Foundation, was the pilot. The Collings Foundation is a Massachusetts-based non-profit educational foundation dedicated to preserving historical aircraft. Mitchell says the foundation has preserved aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, the P-51 Mustang and the B-25 Mitchell.

The Spitfire, he says, is in a class all its own. 

"The way the airplane flies is very special," he said. "Obviously it's a fighter plane. It performs on a whole different level. But what really makes this aircraft so special is all the history that's behind it. If you go off and see the movie Dunkirk tonight, you'll see these flying in 1940, all the way until the end of the war. This particular airplane started flying in 1942 and flew 121 combat missions. It was escorting American B-17s and B-24s. So that's the special part, is being attached to that history."

And there aren't many left.

"There are only a handful of Spitfires left in the United States," Collings said. "There are more over in England. But they are a very rare aircraft. Of the 20,000 or so that were build, I think there are probably about 50 or so left flying."

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