As reported by The Guardian on May 30th, the Royal Air Force has grounded its fleet of Spitfires following the death Squadron Leader Mark Long over last weekend, casting doubt on the aircraft’s participation in the upcoming 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings next month.

Squadron Leader Mark Long, a Typhoon pilot stationed at RAF Coningsby, tragically lost his life in a crash while flying a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) during a memorial event. Long, who had served with the BBMF for the past four years, was set to lead the event next year.

An RAF spokesperson stated, “Following the tragic accident at RAF Coningsby, and while the formal investigation is ongoing, the RAF has instigated a temporary pause in flying for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.”

This announcement raises concerns about the iconic single-seat fighter aircraft’s involvement in the D-Day celebrations. The Spitfires were scheduled to participate in a national commemorative event in Portsmouth on June 5th, marking 80 years since Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, a pivotal moment in turning the tide of World War II against Nazi Germany. The timeline for the RAF’s investigation and the subsequent decision on whether the vintage planes will fly again remains uncertain.