First flight of the Spitfire

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I thought that this question had been resolved to everyone's satisfaction years ago.

In the April 2006 edition of Aeroplane they showed a copy of a Supermarine internal memo, dated 18th March 1936, that summarised the first four test flights.  The first took place at 16:35 on 5th March and lasted 8 minutes.

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The History, 2nd Edition (2000), says morning of the 5th.

It also says the Air Ministry Certificate of Design was issued on the 6th, although as I've never heard of one of those I don't know if the aircraft needs to have flown before it's issued.

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I'd go with the Supermarine memo over the revised history by an aging Morgan and Shaklady 😃

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Well, the question was which date, not the exact minute and it seems like both editions of "The History" and the "Supermarine internal memo" agree on the 5th.

Maybe the first flight was planned to be executed as early in the day as possible due to less thermal turbulence and probably less wind but there's always some "last minute issue" to be resolved, delaying the event.

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Fair comment, but one is a secondary source, and hence open to query, while the other is primary, written within days of the event and highly likely to be accurate.

The memo shows that all of the first four flights took place in the afternoon, so most likely they were planned that way

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Possibly because neither Mutt Summers or Jeffrey Quill were based at Eastleigh so it's to allow time for one or both to fly down from wherever they were based, Brooklands I assume.

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dhfan,

I think that your proposition that Mutt Summers was not based at Eastleigh is correct.  Brooklands, Weybridge would be correct.  Alex Henshaw in his biography mentions his 'job interview'  with Summers in his office at Brooklands.  But, as Chief Test Pilot for the Vickers Armstrongs aviation division Summers also had responsibilities for Supermarine's products at their airfield. That was only Eastleigh in 1936 of course. 

With Jeffrey Quill working as one of Summer's pilots his main focus was the Woolston Southampton products. But, JQ could be called to Brooklands to test fly some of their products too. Hence he had, one one occasion, had to depart from a Wellesley in a hurry under a parachute!

Thanks as ever to Schneiderman for reminding us more accurately than my memory of the Aeroplane article April 2006 that included a photo of the Supermarine memo with the date and accurate time of day for the first flight. 

As to why relatively later in the day? Mitchell wanted to be there and no doubt some of his senior managers too. Just maybe it happened to be more convenient for the party to gather?  Or was there a technical snag earlier?  Will we ever know?

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I've just had a quick flick through Jeffrey Quill's A Test Pilot's Story, and as I suspected, at the time of the preliminary flights of the Spitfire, Quill was based at Weybridge and living in Walton on Thames.

George Pickering was the production test pilot for Supermarine. I haven't continued re-reading but as Quill became much more involved with Spitfire development I'm sure he moved nearer to Eastleigh.

I stick with my original theory, afternoon flights were to give Summers and or Quill time to fly down from Weybridge.

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In the 1939 Register Summers is living in Weybridge and Quill in Eastleigh.

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Did not find Pickering with a quick search but here is part of his log showing his first flights in K5054

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