SEVENTY-FIVE years after the first time it happened, the Spitfire has once again taken to the air over Southampton.

A hush descended on Southampton Airport as the historic plane prepared to take to the skies.

The iconic Spitfire dipped its wings over the county that designed and created it.

    The fighter plane that came to represent Britain’s bulldog spirit in World War II was watched in awe by thousands. The crowds had gathered in Mayflower park, to witness the historic flypast .

    It marked the 75th anniversary of the aircraft’s maiden flight and was made by the word only female Spitfire pilot Carolyn Grace. She told the Daily Echo; “The Spitfire is incredibly special because of its wartime achievements and because of the way it looks and flies. It is an honours to be involved in such an historic event, especially here in Southampton where its story started.”

    As the plane landed back at Southampton Airport, it was like a shot from an old war film. The pilot and passenger shaking hands after climbing out of the iconic fighter plane.

    They could have been returning from a sortie over enemy skies.

    Crowds braved icy winds to cheer in the restored aircraft.

    Nick Hancock, winning Spitfire memorial designer, was the lucky passenger in the fighter as it soared over the skies of Southampton.

    He said: "I got the fly it going over Southampton Water. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I can't stop smiling it was absolutely fantastic."

    Today also marks the official launch of fundraising efforts for the city’s Spitfire Memorial.

    Prime Minister David Cameron has already pledged his support to the campaign, which aims to raise £2m.

    He said: “Few sights conjure up more nostalgia and pride than the silhouette of a Spitfire against the sky.

    “It’s a sight that stands for courage, for resilience, for freedom and for British ingenuity.

    “That’s why I am delighted at plans to erect a huge and prominent tribute to the Spitfire – and to all who designed, built, maintained and flew them.

    “This is going to be one of the first things people will see as they enter Britain and through its size and its symbolism it should create a powerful first impression.

    “I wish your fundraising efforts every success – and look forward to seeing the tribute in Southampton in the years to come.”

    The Spitfire was designed by the legendary R J Mitchell, who lived and worked in Southampton.

    It was built at the Southampton Supermarine factories and at 28 other sites across the Hampshire area after the original buildings were destroyed in bombing raids.

    The Spitfire played a vital role in the Battle of Britain, which foiled Nazi Germany’s plan to invade the UK.

    • Don't forget there is a voucher in today's Daily Echo for a free commemorative poster of the the flypast. Don't miss your copy.