Spirited ex-pilot aids Second World War plane restoration projects
A FORMER police helicopter pilot is using his love for aviation and engineering skills to produce liquor labels to help two Second World War aeroplane restoration projects.
Johan Brand, of Harwood, has created the Aviation Heritage Spirits brands of Spitfire and Hurricane vodka, gin and navy strength rum to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
At the same time, he is using a portion of the profits from online sales to raise cash for the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group and Laguna’s Spitfire Legacy, both of which are rebuilding iconic fighter planes.
Mr Brand, who flew helicopters for the South African Police Service for many years before coming to the UK with his British wife, initially ran a business creating decorative aviation panels. He said: “I have channelled that into creating different batches of spirits with different labels. The bottles are quite unique – I had the glass modelled for the aluminium labels.”
The labels, complete with aluminium aviation rivets, are individually crafted by Mr Brand and carry the insignia and emblems of actual planes that flew in the Second World War. One of the Spitfire brands commemorates South African Spitfire pilot Adolph Gysbert Malan, who survived the Battle of Britain to return safely to Kimberley in his home country.
Mr Brand said: “There is another flown by a Polish pilot in the Battle of Britain who subsequently died in the war, so that will preserve his legacy.”
His navy strength rum pays homage to the Navy Air Wing Fleet pilots.
All of the spirits are distilled by Union Distillers and there are plans for the near future are to create labels for whiskey and brandy too.
The Whiskey label will be a tribute to a Scottish pilot.
Mr Brand said the two aircraft restoration projects are desperate for cash to continue because of the coronavirus restrictions.
He said: “They still have a way to go. All their funds come from airshows and the sale of merchandise. They will get a portion of the profit from the labels for their restorations and it will further their cause to get their information out there.”
Mr Brand is currently applying for a licence to set up a distribution point at Barnard Castle Storage.
People can pre-order the unique commemorative spirit labels by visiting www.av-alc.com.