The project already has the support of individuals and major businesses who are providing pro bono support to help bring the project to life.
Air Marshal G A ‘Black’ Robertson CBE BA FRAeS FRSA
The son of a decorated Spitfire ace, ‘Black’ Robertson joined the RAF in 1963, quickly acquiring a nickname that’s remained with him ever since. After three years at the RAF College, Cranwell, he spent more than three decades in flying, command and staff appointments; these included tours of duty in the USA, Germany and the Falklands. He flew all the RAF’s front line fast jet aircraft and latterly qualified as a helicopter pilot. Five tours as a Whitehall warrior were doubtless penance for the privilege of command at almost every level.
Black regards his tour as OC No 92 Squadron, a unit with a proud Battle of Britain history, followed by his appointment as an ADC to HM The Queen, as the high spots of a career where he logged more than 3,600 flying hours. On leaving the RAF he continued to work at the highest politico/military level, first with British Aerospace (later BAE Systems) and subsequently through his own consultancy businesses. After a period as Clerk to The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, a county-based quasi livery company, he became a trustee of the David Vaisey Library Prize and a Cranfield Trust mentor.
An occasional radio and television commentator, Black began writing in part by way of homage to his father, Flight Lieutenant Ron ‘Robbie’ Robertson DFC, who served with both 111 and 72 Squadrons. Robbie’s own flying career came to an end in Tunisia at the hands of Erich Rudorffer, one of the Luftwaffe’s finest Experten. Credited with some 220 victories, he ranks seventh in the German air combat hierarchy. Robbie managed to damage Rudorffer’s aircraft in a head-on engagement but lost an eye as a result. He’d been privileged to fly with some of the RAF’s best known Spitfire aces, amongst them Brian Kingcome, ‘Ginger’ Lacey, Jamie Rankin and Bob Stanford Tuck. When he died in 1999 he left a legacy of Spitfire memorabilia that sparked Black’s writing career. His first book, Fighters in the Blood, was published in 2020; the prequel, A Spitfire Named Connie, followed two years later. He continues to write and lecture on aviation matters, notably the Battle of Britain.
Air Marshal Turner
Air Marshal Turner is delighted to be a National Spitfire Project ‘Ace’. He was the Royal Air Forces’ previous Deputy Commander responsible for ‘the future’ - tracking tech, studying the enemy, spotting threats, adjusting methods, buying equipment, preparing people, upgrading our bases and transitioning to a digital service that will be NetZero by 2040. Prior to this he served in the MOD, Pentagon and White House, commanded at every rank and was a combat helicopter pilot, with 5100 flying hours, on 92 types of aircraft on 19 combat operations.
Shot at and hit 6 times, he is a trained parachutist, plays polo, rows at Henley, has two unruly Jack Russell and feels half his age.
Paul Beaver FRAeS VR
Paul Beaver is very much a hands-on historian with a pilot’s logbook which includes the Spitfire, Harvard and Mustang. He regulars flies the family Cessna and is an authorised civilian and military flying display director. He is a licenced battlefield guide and an acknowledged expert on the Spitfire, the Battle of Britain, the Dambusters raid, naval aviation and current operations.
He has written more than 70 books, including, Spitfire Evolution, which covers all 72 variants of the Spitfire was published on 5th March 2016 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the maiden flight of the Type 300 which became the Spitfire. He is now working on the Biography of Eric (Winkle) Brown and has completed the first volume of aviation-related cocktails for St Clement-Danes, the central church of the Royal Air Force.
Paul’s charity work, besides the National Spitfire Project, includes being a Trustee of the Army Flying Museum and the Billy Fiske Foundation which remembers the first American pilot to die in the Battle of Britain. He is a member of the Aeronautical Heritage committee of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Other memberships include the T E Lawrence Society, the Royal Air Force Historical Society and the Battle of Britain Historical Society.
Paul is a Member of No 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force which traces its history back to before the Battle of Britain. Previously, he had been an
army aviation reservist, retiring in 2013 with the rank of Colonel. From 2014-16, he was Chairman of No 1010 (City of Salisbury) Squadron of the Air Cadet Organisation and retains a strong interest in net zero aviation and education. He leads a series of study days and residential courses on the Spitfire, Biggles, Cecil Lewis and Double Agents for Andante Travels.
Well qualified as a pilot and historian, Paul spent 15 years directly linked to Jane’s including Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly. He made JDW into a household name in 1990 through his broadcasting during the Liberation of Kuwait and eventually became a freelance war correspondent for Sky News and a studio ‘expert’ for BBC News and CNN International, for whom he jointly presented the 50th Anniversary of D-Day (from Normandy), VE-Day (from Moscow) and the Hong Kong Handover. He still contributes to broadcast outlets and documentaries.
Dr Victoria Taylor is an award-winning aviation historian who completed her PhD thesis on the Luftwaffe and National Socialism in the Third Reich at the University of Hull. In recognition of this PhD research, she was awarded the 2020 Royal Air Force Museum Doctoral Academic Prize in 2021. She also undertook a Masters In Historical Research (MRes) on Britain's wartime and post-war mythologization of Operation CHASTISE – better known as the ‘Dambusters raid’ – at Hull, for which she was awarded the Royal Air Force Museum’s RAF Centenary Master’s Academic Prize in 2019.
Victoria specialises in the history of airpower, aviation, and the public imagination in Britain and Germany during the Second World War. She has contributed to a variety of popular history magazines – such as 'BBC History Extra' and 'Britain at War' – and academic publications alike, along with featuring widely as an aviation expert in programming for the BBC, Channel 5, Sky History, History Hit, the RAF Benevolent Fund, and the Smithsonian Channel. She co-wrote and narrated Season Two of the RAF BF podcast All Stations, which was entitled ‘Inside the Battle of Britain’, and did the same for ‘Spitfire: From The Ashes’, a BBC Radio 4 special that delved into the history of Supermarine and its most famous creation.
Victoria sits on the Editorial Board for the Royal Aeronautical Society's Journal of Aeronautical History and is part of its Aeronautical Heritage Specialist Group. Her expertise is also channelled via consultancy work, from working as an Historical Consultant for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund’s ‘Back On The Radar’ installation piece and WAAF infographics in 2020, to serving as Project Historian for the Advisory Board of Spitfire AA810 - a cross-party scheme which seeks to restore an original Photographic Reconnaissance Unit Spitfire to the skies.