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WWII Spitfire rediscovered 40 years later

The Story

John "Brick" Bradford had only a few photos to remind him of his time as a pilot conducting photographic reconaissance missions in India during the Second World War. But in 1985 an incredible coincidence brought him something a lot bigger: the very Spitfire he had flown on a routine mission 40 years before. CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason explains the chain of events and catches up with Bradford as he visits the pieces of the Spitfire awaiting restoration and a chance to fly again.   

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 4, 1985
Host: Knowlton Nash
Guest: Brick Bradford
Duration: 3:00

Did You know?

• The Canadian company that bought the Spitfire, tail number PA908, sold it to the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio in 1986. It has been restored and is on display there but was never brought back to flying condition.

• "Brick" was a natural nickname for John Bradford because of a science fiction comic strip of the 1930s and '40s. It featured the exploits of an aviator named, yes, Brick Bradford.

• Bradford retired as a pilot flying cargo for FedEx at age 77. According to the book Aces, Warriors and Wingmen, he was profiled in the FedEx company magazine as the oldest pilot on staff - a fact the CEO didn't know until he read it. Horrified that he was "legally responsible for a former Second World War reconaissance pilot flying alone at night," the CEO asked Bradford to step down. 

• Brick Bradford died on Sept. 24, 2014. He was 94.  



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