Replica Spitfire Pilot Soars with Success After Given Okay to Fly to Work 365 Days a Year

A far north Queensland man has won his bid to fly his replica World War II-era Spitfire to work each day.

Tired of traffic snarls and road closures, Patrick English put in an application to the local council late last year to fly the plane from his private airstrip in the rural township of Koah to Cairns.

On Wednesday, Mareeba Shire Council approved his request to be allowed to use his airstrip all 365 days of the year, up from 52 days a year.

However, the result is not exactly what Mr English had been hoping for.

“I had applied to be able to fly six times a day and they’ve approved me essentially for one return trip per day,” Mr English said.

“We will see where it goes from here.”

Patrick English and his WWII Spitfire replica.

Mr English, an engineer who runs a firm in Cairns, said it took him about 45 minutes to drive from his rural property to the city on a good day.

In his Spitfire — which took him six years to build — it is a five-minute trip.

Several conditions imposed

The council received 182 submissions in relation to the development application, despite Mr English only having a handful of close neighbours.

Eight-six per cent of respondents were opposed to the proposal and the application was approved with a number of conditions.

Flight times are to be restricted to between 7am and 6pm Monday to Sunday and Mr English must also avoid flying over his neighbours by adhering to a strict flight path.

Man stands beside sign for Mareeba Council

Neighbour Sarah Isaacs said it was only a partial win for them.

“He wanted six flights a day which would have been awful,” she said.

“We were hoping it would be voted against altogether.”

Three councillors voted against Mr English being able to use his private airstrip despite Mr English maintaining there is no noise problem.

“If I fly this aeroplane over 1,000 feet [305 metres] it makes less noise than the commercial jets flying to Cairns all day long,” he said.

“My Spitfire makes less noise than a Harley Davidson.”