'I'm very lucky' - flying over historic Northumberland coastal castles in World War II biplane is an 'experience like no other'

The World War II vintage Tiger Moth plane takes to the sky over Northumberland. (PA)The World War II vintage Tiger Moth plane takes to the sky over Northumberland. (PA)
The World War II vintage Tiger Moth plane takes to the sky over Northumberland. (PA) | PA Wire
“It’s a full audio-visual experience flying these aeroplanes, you’re sat with the engine just a few feet in front of you."

Flying over the Northumberland coast in a piece of history 1,500 feet above stunning castles sounds like a dream day for many. And that's exactly why plot James Arnott admits he is a lucky man.

Away from his regular job of flying holidaymakers in 737 jets, James also flies a very different plane - a 1940s Tiger Moth biplane. With the wind in his hair, it's an "experience like no other" and one that holds a sentimental meaning for James.

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Many years back, his grandfather learned to fly in a Tiger Moth plane and others can experience this as a passenger with Tiger Flights - a company which takes customers up in the Second World War biplane for spectacular sight-seeing trips.

James Arnott works as head of training at the firm based at Eshott Airfield 20 miles north of Newcastle, where it operates two Tiger Moths, the brown and blue G-EMSY and the striking red G-ANEZ.

Owner Dave Burns said: “It blows my mind that pilots from a bygone era learned their craft in these incredible machines.

Pilot James Arnott in a World War II vintage Tiger Moth at Eshott Airfield where Tiger Flights offer pleasure flights over the county and surrounding areas. (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)Pilot James Arnott in a World War II vintage Tiger Moth at Eshott Airfield where Tiger Flights offer pleasure flights over the county and surrounding areas. (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
Pilot James Arnott in a World War II vintage Tiger Moth at Eshott Airfield where Tiger Flights offer pleasure flights over the county and surrounding areas. (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire) | Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

“I pinch myself that we get to fly G-EMSY every day but it’s even better seeing our passengers have that ‘wow’ moment when we take to the skies.

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“Every time you hear the crew shout ‘contact’ when they start the motor you know someone is about to have a proper wind-in-their-hair experience like no other.”

The firm’s flyers take clients on exhilarating trips up the coast, past the historic castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh and the ruins at Dunstanburgh, beside the Farne Islands and over the wide open beaches of Northumberland.

James Arnott added: “It’s old-school flying how it used to be back in the 1930s when you used to rock up to your country estate and land on the front lawn and go for tea.

“It’s a full audio-visual experience flying these aeroplanes, you’re sat with the engine just a few feet in front of you. There’s nothing in between you and it, there’s no soundproofing, you’re out in the open air.

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“You’ve got the blast from the propeller, you’ve got the smell of the exhaust.

“You’ve got the wind blowing past you at 75 miles an hour. And strangely you can smell the engine ahead of you.

“You can smell what’s going on in the countryside around. I’m very lucky.

“I love flying Tiger Moths. I fly lots of other different types of aeroplanes, lots of other vintage aeroplanes, but the Tiger Moth always holds a special place in my heart.”

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Tiger Moths were used to train Spitfire pilots and the company owners see themselves as custodians of important heritage, keeping their two examples in perfect flying condition.

G-EMSY was built in 1940 and after the war was sent to Germany in the 1950s, before it was rescued from a Belgian barn and restored.

Mr Arnott said: “We’re very lucky because the countryside around here is absolutely stunning. It’s not really like somewhere else you can fly around in this country.

“We’ve got this amazing coastline, there’s wonderful beaches, cliffs, it’s really quite rugged in places. It’s just castles, everywhere you look.

“There’s so much to look at, and you get a totally different perspective when you’re seeing it from up in the air. It’s brilliant.”

For more information tigerflights.co.uk

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