Forgotten Spitfire will fly again after major restoration

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Sgt Howard Squire, 89, in front of Spitfire Mk Ia X4650Photo: John Dibbs

The painstaking reconstruction of aircraft X4650 coincides with a public competition to design a permanent memorial to the aircraft’s designers.

It also shines a spotlight on the extraordinary story of young pilot Howard Squire who was flying the plane on a training mission led by RAF legend ‘Al’ Deere when the pair collided over North Yorkshire.

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Sgt Squire, now 89, has visited the restoration project and hopes to see the finished aircraft fly over the south coast of England later this year.

Those involved in the project believe X4650 will be the most accurately-rebuilt Mark I Spitfire in the skies and will contain the highest number of original parts.

The wreckage was only discovered in the long, hot summer of 1976 when low river levels exposed the metal embedded in a clay riverbank on farmland near Kirklevington, Cleveland.

It had been there since December 28 1940, after Sgt Squire, then 20, bailed out after colliding with X4276 flown by Al Deere, Flight Commander of 54 Squadron at RAF Catterick.

New Zealand-born Deere, a Battle of Britain legend who went on to become an Air Commodore, was giving his junior a lesson in how to keep doggedly close to an enemy aircraft.

“Stick to me like glue,” he told Sgt Squire – a line that inspired a pilot training scene in the 1969 film, Battle of Britain.

However, the young man stuck too close and his plane – then only a few months old – hit Deere’s tail with his propeller at 12,000ft, forcing them both to ditch.

“I thought I was for the chop,” said Sgt Squire, who now lives near Birmingham. “There aren’t many pilots who knock their Flight Commander out of the sky. He was very good about it.”

Sgt Squire was shot down over France on February 26, 1941, and became a prisoner of war. He said: “The Spitfire was a beautiful aircraft, like a Tiger Moth but with real power. A doddle to fly. We used to throw them about all over the place, as unfortunately I demonstrated.”

The nature of the crash-landing later proved essential to the Spitfire’s revival.

In order to provide himself with the safest escape in his parachute, Sgt Squires had ‘trimmed’ the aircraft for stable flight that led to a slow, almost level descent into the riverbank rather than a high-speed impact that might have destroyed many more of the parts.

The aircraft has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to restore but is now thought to be worth more than £2m and is expected to enter private ownership.

It is currently registered to Peter Monk, the Spitfire enthusiast overseeing the complex project in which the engine has been refurbished by specialists in Gloucestershire and the airframe restored by craftsmen on the Isle of Wight.

There are about 50 Spitfires flying – a higher number than in the early 1950s. Britain was littered with wrecks in the years after the Second World War until enthusiasts began to recover them for sale or for museums.

The fighter plane was designed in 1936 by R J Mitchell at Southampton’s Supermarine seaplane factory following urgent requests from the Ministry of Aviation because of the looming conflict with Germany.

So many RAF orders were placed that production was spread to additional sites including Castle Bromwich near Birmingham, where X4650 was built.

Air Commodore Deere was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in a ceremony conducted by King George VI on June 28th 1940 at RAF Hornchurch. He retired in 1977, died in 1995 and his ashes were scattered over the Thames estuary from a Spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight.

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Angelina Jolie left scarred after set accident while filming stunts on new film Salt

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In the film she plays a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian traitor.

The A-list actress plays a mysterious character performed her own stunts in the film where she plays a character called Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy who must prove her innocence while on the run.

The movie required her to jump across highway overpasses onto semi trucks, perform hand-to-hand combat and handle a number of different weapons.

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The 35 year-old, whose partner is Brad Pitt, said she sliced open part of her face just above her nose when tumbling into a doorway with a gun.

Speaking at the Comic-Con festival in San Diego, California, she said it had come during a “ridiculously” easy scene, which involved her rolling onto the floor. It has left her with a permanent scar.

“I was bleeding and I have a little scar now,” said the mother of six and UN goodwill ambassador for refugees.

She also thought she had suffered a concussion because she could not hear anything but later realised she was wearing earplugs.

“I couldn’t hear everybody well and I thought ‘oh god, I’ve done it. I have a concussion’. But it turns out, I just still had my earplugs in, so I was fine,” she told audience at the San Diego Convention Centre.

But despite her injury she said she was pleased with how they turned out.

“You can get away with so much in fantasy like bending a bullet, for example,” she said.

“So this one was a nice challenge because we had to work so much harder to convince the audience that all of these things are possible.

“I think these stunts in this movie are better than in other action movies that I’ve done.”

She added: “I love doing action, and I love doing dramatic films, and I’ve never really been able to combine them.”

During her training she was also required to train in martial arts including Krav Maga and Muy Thai.

For her role, she also consulted with a real spy, Mellisa Boyle Mahle, a former US intelligence officer and an expert on the Middle East and counterterrorism.

She was joined by her co-star Liev Schreiber, producer Dino di Bonaventure and director Phillip Noyce to promote the film, which opens later this month.

Her character, a married CIA officer, is accused by a Russian defector of being a Russian spy.

She flees from her CIA colleagues, including her boss (Liev Schreiber) and her main pursuer (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and spends the rest of the movie trying to prove her innocence.

But her actions, many of which result in dead bodies, cast doubt on her motives. It has left the world guessing if she really is a traitor.

The A-list actress, clad in a snug shiny black jacket, side-stepped fan questions about her mysterious character, who may or may not be a Russian spy.

“There’s a real duplicity to her personality,” she said.

“There’s a part of her that’s not necessarily a good guy, and because of certain things that happened to her, she’s a bit damaged.

“She’s not just heroic. She’s not even. She’s not just brave. There’s something a little off about her, and maybe there’s something off about me.”

Schreiber said he was impressed with his co-stars determination to do hr own stunts.

“She wanted to do every stunt, and she did,” he said.

“No CGI in the movie, no stunt double, it’s all her.”

Jolie has starred in movies including Tomb Raider, Girl, Interrupted and Wanted.

She and Pitt starred in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2005 and began dating after he divorced the actress Jennifer Aniston that year.

The couple started the Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2006 and have three adopted and three biological children.

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Apple iPhone thief ‘caught just minutes later after GPS tracked him’

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The iPhone’s software was being tested by an intern.Photo: AFP

The 31 year-old snatched the highly-sought after phone from the hands of a software company employee who was testing a new application in San Francisco earlier this week.

But the hapless thief was arrested by police just nine minutes later after the iPhone tracked his every move.

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The phone was being used to test a new real-time tracking application, which had been produced by Covia Labs, a software company based in the San Francisco Bay suburb of Mountain View.

David Kahn, the company’s chief executive, said he sent the 23 year-old female intern, who has not been named, out to walk around the block during a demonstration for a client.

The software is designed to help police and the military track officers in the field.

But as Mr Kahn and his client David Fonkalsrud watched a live map of the phone’s location on his computer they became puzzled by how quickly the image was moving down the street.

Police said Toure had escaped by bicycle.

“We kind of noticed while that was happening, boy, she was really starting to move pretty fast and she wasn’t heading back toward the place,” Mr Kahn told the San Jose Mercury News.

“Moments later she comes bursting into the office and said she’d just been mugged.”

Mr Kahn said he used the software to track the thief’s movements while the intern called police.

“It was pretty exciting to realise what was going on and wondering if he had noticed,” Mr Kahn said.

“I actually had an adrenaline rush. Obviously if he had turned off the phone that would have been it.”

Mr Fonkalsrud added: “It probably sounds almost unreal. It’s almost as if it’s a bank robber picking a day to rob a bank when there are five police officers in the branch.”

The pair denied the incident was a publicity stunt.

Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police spokeswoman, said: “That’s pretty effective software, I would say.

“Criminals are opportunistic. … But I’m sure even criminals won’t take a chance if they know that there’s a tracking device.”

Toure was later charged with theft and possession of stolen property after the intern identified him as the thief. He will appear in court at a later date.

An Apple spokesman was unavailable for comment.

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Pensioner welcomes first neighbours after three years in luxury ghost town

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Photo: Peter Lawson/Eastnews

When Les Harrington, and his late wife, Doris, moved into Homebridge Village, a converted 18th Century workhouse and hospital in Witham, Essex, in 2007 they had every reason to look forward to a busy social life, surrounded by neighbours.

With its own private gym, restaurant, laundry and carefully manicured gardens, the village was unsurprisingly heavily subscribed.

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Most of the 58 listed cottages and apartments on the 2.4 acre site, were already reserved before work had been completed.

But as the housing market began to feel the financial chill and a series of deals collapsed, the owners of the site went into administration, turning the £6 million development into a virtual ghost town.

Following the death of his wife shortly after moving in, Mr Harrington, an 87-year-old RAF veteran, found himself as the sole occupant.

The site’s two-strong staff, a cleaner and maintenance man, were kept on while the administrators attempted to find a buyer – attentive to his every need.

Mr Harrington occupied his time with his regular trips to the on-site gym and work on a novel he hopes to see published.

His unusual situation made Mr Harrington an unlikely symbol of the global financial downturn, featured in newspaper articles around the world.

But now, after a change in planning rules which barred anyone under 55 from moving in, he is finally welcoming his first neighbours.

The change enabled Fairview New Homes, a property developer, to take over the site and sell the homes to the wider market, with two-bedroiom cottages on sale from £190,000.

Mr Harrington’s first neighbours finally began moving in earlier this month, with more expected in the next few weeks.

After three years of an enforced quiet life he jokes that the prospect of loud music or late night television programmes blaring out of surrounding homes could not be more welcome.

“I suppose the worst time was the evenings,” he said.

“I like to go outside and have a pipe of an evening and especially in the winter, it was quiet.

“It will be nice now to see a light and hear people.

“I expect soon we will probably hear music and television coming out of people’s houses.”

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