Touching photo: Veteran pilot bows in front of Spitfire

Spitfire pilot

The image of veteran pilot Diogenis Charlaftis in front of the Spitfire aircraft, which is exhibited in the Hellenic Air Force Museum, is moving.

The 91-year-old veteran pilot, with 5,000 hours on most of the aircraft on display at the Air Force Museum, stands as shown in the photo, excited in front of the Spitfire.


Diogenis Charlaftis was born in 1930.

He entered the Icarus School in September 1949 with the 24th series of pilots.

In May 1979 he was demobilized with the rank of Lieutenant General.

During his many years of service, he passed through many and interesting positions of responsibility within the Air Force.

Of the more than 20,000 Spitfires built for World War II from 1938 to 1948, only 240 survive today, of which about 60 are still in flight for exhibition shows. One of them is the Greek Spitfire MJ755, built-in Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham, England in 1943.

It was originally delivered to the 33rd RAF Maintenance Squadron in December of that year.

At the beginning of 1944, its military action began, arriving in Casablanca, loaded on a ship on March 13, 1944, for the British Air Force of the Middle East.


After the end of the war, the MJ755 did not return to Britain but was given to a Maintenance Squadron in Ismailia, Egypt.

From there, RAF Subcommander George Dan, a veteran bomber pilot with 44 missions during the Second World War, brought it to Greece on February 27, 1947 for the then Hellenic Royal Air Force.

In fact, he had no previous flying experience in a Spitfire, and flew the aircraft having only studied the flight manual!

It was one of about 77 Spitfire chases provided by the British government to rebuild the Greek Air Force after World War II.

At the end of 1953, it made its last flight, before being permanently grounded, and used as an exhibition first in Tatoi, and later in the courtyard of the War Museum.

After the creation of the Air Force Museum, it was relocated to Tatoi in 1995, before being sent in 2018 to the historic Biggin Hill Airport outside London, to a special reconstruction centre.

READ MORE: The Hellenic Air Force’s historic MJ755 Spitfire.