RJ Mitchell. A life in aviation.
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20th November 2006

Flower honours spitfire creator

Gloucestershire Echo

A Flower has been named after Spitfire designer RJ Mitchell.

A specially-grown penstemon has been presented to Dr Gordon Mitchell, the son of the man who created the iconic Second World War fighter plane.

Gordon, 86, who lives in Lower Slaughter, is flying high following his father's honour.

The cream flower, with orchid lips, was created by amateur gardener John Longstaff, 76, from Northamptonshire. He got to know Dr Mitchell after he ordered a copy of his recent book, RJ Mitchell - Schooldays to Spitfire. And when Mr Longstaff heard the author had raised almost 30,000 for Cancer Research UK through lectures on his famous father, he decided to christen the flower and sell it for the same charity. He has already raised 350.

Dr Mitchell said: "My father wasn't a keen gardener but he appreciated his garden and would have liked the flower. With the Spitfire, once he got the basic dynamics right I'm sure his artistic element came into it and that's why it's a beautiful aircraft. I'm delighted for my father to be honoured by anything."

"I'm still plugging away at getting Southampton Airport, where the Spitfire was tested and flown, named after him. I've had terrific support including backing from the Duke of Edinburgh. The chairman of BAA said they'd never named any of their airports after an individual, but he's left, so I'll try again."

Retired electrical contractor Mr Longstaff said: "RJ Mitchell has always been my hero since a schoolboy. I'm an aircraft nut. My penstemon is not better than anyone else's but it's the only one with that name."

Mr Longstaff has sold several hundred cuttings from his garden and donated 350 to Cancer Research UK.

RJ Mitchell designed 24 aircraft during his career but is best known for the Spitfire. He died in 1933, and died four years later at 42 - never having seen his Spitfire fly.

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28th November 2006 - MOD Press Release
Science & Technology Challenge - Only the best should apply

20th November 2006 - Gloucestershire Echo
Flower honours spitfire creator

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