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Group restoring de Havilland Mosquito RL249 mark 70th anniversary of RAF Coltishall crash

PUBLISHED: 11:37 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:35 14 February 2019

The medal presentation where Pilot Officer Dickie Colbourne was given the George Medal for his actions battling to save his friend from the wreckage. Photo: The People's Mosquito

The medal presentation where Pilot Officer Dickie Colbourne was given the George Medal for his actions battling to save his friend from the wreckage. Photo: The People's Mosquito

Archant

Members of an ambitious project to restore the remains of a Second World War plane which crashed at a Norfolk RAF airfield 70 years ago today to flying condition are marking the anniversary of the fatal flight.

Pilot Officer Dickie Colbourne was subsequently awarded the George Medal for his actions battling to save his friend from the wreckage. Photo: The People's MosquitoPilot Officer Dickie Colbourne was subsequently awarded the George Medal for his actions battling to save his friend from the wreckage. Photo: The People's Mosquito

On February 14, 1949, the RL249 de Havilland Mosquito crashed from the skies into a group of trees a few miles from RAF Coltishall during a night flight, killing navigator Flight Sergeant William Kirby.

The death of his comrade and friend saw Pilot Officer Dickie Colbourne awarded a medal for his bravery, as he battled to save him from the crash.

And now a group of historic aviation experts are seeking to restore the former 23 Squadron aircraft’s remains to flying condition - and hope to see it soar in the skies above Britain again.

The group, known as The People’s Mosquito, aim to transform the plane’s wreckage to a fully working, flight-ready aircraft.

The RAF Coltishall sign.The RAF Coltishall sign.

It would be the first UK built Mosquito to fly in more than 70 years, and the first aircraft of its kind to fly in the UK since 1996.

Spokesman Stewart Charman said: “February 14, 2019, marks a special day for The People’s Mosquito.

“The crash claimed the life of Flight Sergeant Kirby and resulted in a badly injured Pilot Officer Colbourne being awarded the George Medal for conspicuous gallantry as he fought to save his friend from the wreckage.

“It is their poignant story of comradeship, bravery and tragic loss that inspires us to return RL249 to UK skies.

The plane's log from December 1948. Photo: The People's MosquitoThe plane's log from December 1948. Photo: The People's Mosquito

“As we work towards that goal in 2019, The People’s Mosquito is proud and honoured to do so knowing that we have enthusiastic support from the surviving family of Sergeant Kirby, a man who loved to fly and had always dreamt of joining the RAF.”

The group, The People's Mosquito, are working to restore the remains of the de Havilland Mosquito to flying condition. Photo: The People's MosquitoThe group, The People's Mosquito, are working to restore the remains of the de Havilland Mosquito to flying condition. Photo: The People's Mosquito

The last entry in the plane's log. Photo: The People's MosquitoThe last entry in the plane's log. Photo: The People's Mosquito

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