FOURTEEN Battle of Britain veterans are returning to the skies where they defended their country 70 years ago, thanks to a special flight with British Airways.

A BA Airbus A320 will fly the veterans and members of the Battle of Britain Historical Society today to the locations of some of the battle’s fiercest aerial conflicts over the coast of southern England and the English Channel.

The aircraft will be piloted by BA captain Paul Shenton, who is a former RAF fighter pilot and member of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight team, and will be accompanied for part of the way by two surviving fighter planes – one Spitfire and one Hurricane.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, said: “British Airways is very proud to play its part in acknowledging the remarkable sacrifice made by so many airmen to protect the liberty of their fellow citizens.

“We pay tribute to the veterans who are on today’s special flight and remember those who fought and died so bravely during one of World War Two’s most critical battles.”

Bill Bond MBE, founder of the Battle of Britain Historical Society who came up with the idea of the commemorative flight, said the presence of the Spitfire and Hurricane flying alongside the BA aircraft would be of huge significance to the veterans.

He said: “They are magnificent aircraft and for most of the veterans onboard, this would be the first time they have been airborne together with either fighter since the Second World War. We must never forget their selflessness and valour in what was a fundamental turning point in the war.”

The specially chartered flight will take off at 2pm today from British Airways’ home at Heathrow’s Terminal Five for the two-hour flight over the areas the RAF engaged the Luftwaffe in combat.

Dr Liam Fox, secretary of state for defence, said: “It is almost impossible to measure our debt to those who fought in the Battle of Britain and who defended all we hold dear against the evil of Naziism. It is an honour to board this flight with some of those who won us that famous victory.

“This is a very special year of celebrating the Battle of Britain and I urge the public to attend one of the many commemorative events occurring throughout August and September, to offer their own personal thanks for the sacrifices made in our name in 1940.”