AFTER 67 years hidden away, finally dozens of vintage Spitfire planes are to be unearthed - thanks to the endeavours of an Isle man.
David Cundall from Sandtoft has spent 16 years searching for the planes buried since the Second World War in a quest that cost more than £130,000.
He discovered their location in Burma, which is being kept secret, and they are believed to be in good condition.
They were reportedly sent out in August 1945 and then packed in crates because they proved unsuitable for island hopping in the Pacific. The crates were hidden to stop them falling into the wrong hands, but apart from test flights, the planes had never been flown.
The British Embassy said the agreement was reached after discussions between president Thein Sein and Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit to Burma earlier this year.
Embassy officials described the deal as a chance to work with Burma’s new reformist government “in uncovering, restoring, displaying these fighter planes.”
“We hope that many of them will be gracing the skies of Britain and as discussed, some will be displayed here in Burma,” added an embassy spokesman.
Excavations are due to begin by the end of the month.
Htoo Htoo, managing director of Mr Cundall’s Burma partner company, said: “It took 16 years for Mr Cundall to locate the planes buried in crates. We estimate that there are at least 60 Spitfires buried and they are in good condition. This will be the largest number of Spitfires in the world.
“We want to let people see those historic fighters, and the excavation of these fighter planes will further strengthen relations.”
Burma has over the past year turned away from many of the repressive policies of the previous military government and patched up relations with Western nations that had previously shunned it.
Farmer Mr Cundall has made 12 trips to Burma in his long-running search for the planes. Earlier this year he brought the fate of the aircraft to the attention of the Prime Minister, while becoming the first Western leader to meet Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi. He then secured a deal allowing the iconic fighters to be returned to the UK
Mr Cundall had previously spoken of his hope that the Mk XIV Spitfires could be sent for restoration and renovation to the BAE Systems plant at Brough, East Yorkshire, a call backed by Isle MP Andrew Percy.