A plane reported to be a World War II-era Spitfire crashes in a field in England

LONDON (AP) — A small Royal Air Force plane crashed into a field in eastern England on Saturday, police said. British media reported that the downed aircraft was a World War II-era Spitfire fighter.

Lincolnshire Police said emergency services were responding to reports that an aircraft had crashed in a field in Coningsby, about 150 miles (230 kilometers) north of London. The force said “it is believed to be a single occupant aircraft and nobody else is thought to have been involved.”

There was no immediate word on the condition of the pilot.

The Ministry of Defense said it was aware of an incident in the area involving an RAF aircraft.

“We are working with the emergency services and supporting those involved,” it said.

RAF Coningsby, an air force base near the town, is home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a collection of wartime fighter and bomber aircraft that take part in air shows and memorial displays.

Several of the planes were due to perform a flying display Saturday at the nearby Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center.

The crash occurred days before wartime aircraft will take to the skies to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy.

More than 20,000 Spitfires were built in the 1930s and 40s, and the deft, maneuverable plane played a key role in defending the U.K. from attacks by Germany’s Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously paid tribute to the Battle of Britain airmen with the words: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Only a few dozen airworthy Spitfires remain, including six that belong to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

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