Carolyn Grace was left the spitfire when her husband tragically died in a car crash just three years after the plane’s restoration was completed. Nick Grace recovered the World War II aircraft from a museum in 1979 and painstakingly rebuilt it over five years and flew the two seater at air shows throughout the UK. Carolyn Grace, who sat in the rear seat of the plane when her husband flew the post rebuild maiden flight, decided to cherish her husband’s memory by learning to fly the spitfire herself and gain an aerobatic and formation qualification. She has flown the Grace Spitfire at classic air displays for the past 23 years and her son Richard is now flying on the team too.
MEL Aviation has used its specialist engineering knowledge to look after the extremely rare air bottles for the Grace Spitfire for many years. The significant donation brought forward the decision to place the spare Merlin engine for the plane into overhaul which has an estimated cost of £120,000.
Nick Smith, Chairman of MEL Group, was working for the business as an apprentice when his father died in a plane crash back in 1977. He has since run the company in association with MD Gary Harvey, in accordance with Laurence Smith’s founding principles.
MEL Aviation is delighted to support this truly wonderful icon of British aviation, our sponsorship will help towards keeping the Grace Spitfire airworthy and flying for all to enjoy. MEL Aviation carries out overhauls for historic aircraft components and has done for many years. It’s important to keep these magnificent aircraft airworthy for generations to come. The Grace Spitfire has a truly amazing history and I strongly recommend visiting her website.
Says Carolyn Grace, ‘MEL Aviation’s generous support enables us to carry on maintaining Grace Spitfire while we continue with our flying programme. In 2014 we commemorated the 70th Anniversary of our spitfire being ‘taken on charge’ in April 1944 by 485 (NZ) Squadron and the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings where the Grace Spitfire was officially accredited with shooting down the first enemy aircraft on D-Day. In 2015 we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Nick Grace carrying out the first flight following his meticulous 5 year rebuild of ML407.’
‘My son, Richard Grace operates Air Leasing Ltd who carry out the entire maintenance programme of the Grace Spitfire and he also flies the aircraft with great skill and professionalism. It is vital to have the next generation of pilots and engineers together with the generous donations such as MEL Aviation have given to continue to keep the Grace Spitfire ML407 fully operational for generations to come.
To become a Grace Spitfire Supporter or to donate to the Grace Spitfire Fund visit www.ML407.co.uk. You may also write or send a donation directly to The Grace Spitfire, Solo Enterprises, PO Box 1172, Halstead, Essex, CO9 2QG. The Grace Spitfire is based at Bentwaters, Suffolk.
MEL Aviation founded in 1968, heads the MEL Group. The original business was founded to provide service and support for military aircrew life support ground equipment. The business has never stood still, a continued highly successful acquisition programme over the last 10 years has seen the business develop into a total engineering solution provider for the military, civil aviation and commercial engineering sectors.
The MEL group provides design, overhaul and manufacturing solutions to customers worldwide. The business has been based in Sudbury since 1973 and is still a family run concern.