AA810 Network Launches at Farnborough 2022

Today, as part of his keynote talk during Futures Day at the Farnborough International Airshow’s Pioneers of Tomorrow session, and afterwards in the GKN Aerospace Pavilion, Dr Michael Smith, Chairman of the Sandy Gunn Aerospace Careers Programme (SGACP), announced the formation of the AA810 Network. In similar fashion to the SGACP which takes its name from Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn, the Network takes its name from the aircraft that Sandy flew as a member of the WWII Photographic Reconnaissance Unit that was tasked by Winston Churchill with finding the World’s most powerful battleship at the time, Tirpitz. That aircraft was the unarmed and unarmoured Spitfire AA810.

Sandy, flying AA810, was shot down over Norway on 5 March 1942 whilst keeping an eye on the battleship. Landing on the side of a mountain he was interrogated and sent to the new POW camp, Stalag Luft III. Helping dig tunnel ‘Harry’, with 75 of his fellow prisoners, he escaped on the night of 24 March 1944. Then, with a colleague, attempting to reach the coast and board a boat to neutral Sweden, the two of them travelled underneath freight trains but were discovered and captured by the Germans, interrogated and, on the orders of Adolf Hitler, murdered by the Gestapo. A real life story that was immortalized in the Hollywood film, The Great Escape.

Sandy now rests in peace alongside his fellow POWs in the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in Poznan, Poland. But AA810 has been brought home and, as the future public face of the SGACP, it is being restored and will fly again in 2024 – and give its name to our Network of young people, education and industry.

The Network is open to all young people who have attended an SGACP Presentation or Engineering Workshop (the other two elements of the SGACP) their schools, colleges and employers, plus all individuals and organizations supporting the SGACP and the restoration and subsequent operation of Spitfire AA810. The aim is to assist these young people enter, and then progress, their careers in aerospace.

As it develops the Network will provide: careers information and advice; routes into industry and associated contact details; visits to manufacturing companies, airline engineering facilities, airline and airport operations, appropriate training facilities, MRO operations, air traffic control centres, SAR and air ambulance operations; and such opportunities as drone pilot training and air experience flying. It will be very inter-active involving real and VR activity.

The Network, its services and programme of activities, will be advertised via www.acp-aa810.co.uk and our social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - and direct to our SGACP schools and companies databases. Membership of the Network, like all the other elements of the SGACP, is free to the young people involved. The first event will take place late this Autumn and be advertised as indicated above. For further information contact: info@spitfireaa810.co.uk

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