Chocks away for round-the-world Spitfire flight

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Two British aviators, Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, are taking turns to fly the Silver Spitfire on its four-month,�43,500-kilometre adventure westwards around the globe -- the first time a Spitfire will ever have circumnavigated the planet

A vintage World War II Spitfire plane took off for an unprecedented journey around the world on Monday, which will see the iconic aircraft soar over some 30 countries.

The restored plane took off from Goodwood Aerodrome outside Chichester, near the south coast of England, for the first leg of the epic journey.

The British plane, built in 1943, has been stripped of its guns and military paint, exposing the gleaming aluminium underneath, showing it off as a design classic rather than a war machine.

The Silver Spitfire was heading for Lossiemouth in Scotland on the first stage of its attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean via the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and the wilds of remote northern Canada.

Two British aviators, Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, are taking turns to fly it in some 90-odd legs on its four-month, 43,500-kilometre (27,000-mile) adventure westwards around the globe -- the first time a Spitfire will ever have circumnavigated the planet.

Jones, 45, will fly the first leg, with 58-year-old Brooks in the following support plane.

"I'm nervous and beginning to get excited," Jones told AFP.

"We're going to see so many people and so many countries. I hope it's successful and we get back. We want to show this plane off to the world."

Standing in the hangar, Brooks warmed up for the expedition with a bacon sandwich and coffee in a British flag mug.

"Bacon sarnie. Absolutely essential," he told AFP.

"We've been training for this for so long, I can't wait to go."

The Silver Spitfire took off from the grass airstrip accompanied by three other Spitfires in their regulation military green colours, before circling back round for a flypast.

Of around 20,000 built, fewer than 250 Spitfires survive, with only 50 or so of those still airworthy.

Two British aviators, Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, are taking turns to fly the Silver Spitfire on its four-month,�43,500-kilometre adventure westwards around the globe -- the first time a Spitfire will ever have circumnavigated the planet

Jones, 45, will fly the first leg, with 58-year-old Brooks, left, in the following support plane