Instead, the company behind the gesture will fly a circuit of Biggin Hill airfield in The Spirit of Kent at 8pm on Thursday to coincide with the weekly ‘clap for the NHS’ celebration that has become a feature of Britain in lockdown. 

Speaking to the Telegraph from the front cockpit of a Spitfire, Alex Monk said they were still able to fly in the air traffic zone (ATZ) around the airfield without needing permission.

The flight on Thursday evening will, for part of the circuit, go overhead the Princess Royal University Hospital, just on the edge of Bromley, which is inside the five-nautical mile diameter ATZ around Biggin Hill airfield. 

“That way they can see a Spitfire and we can do a salute to the people of the NHS.

“We’re going to try and do something as a clap for the NHS and it happens to be on Tom’s birthday, which will be nice.

“Fingers crossed we’ll gun for that.”

Mr Monk said the Spitfire will not be carrying out any aerobatics, as the Civil Aviation Authority has strict rules about flying displays, but The Spirit of Kent may show the hospital a little ‘wing waggle’; the aviation equivalent of tipping one’s hat.

The aircraft has been drained of stale fuel and is undergoing light maintenance in anticipation of Thursday’s flight.  

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