HIGH winds have delayed plans to fly a restored replica military aircraft to France as part of commemorations for the First World War centenary.

Stephen Slater, originally from Darlington, planned to fly his replica BE-2 observation plane across the channel today (Monday, August 11).

Versions of the plane were among the first military aircraft deployed over a conflict zone.

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Mr Slater, who is to fly with co-owner Matthew Boddington, said: "Continued high winds and storms in the channel and northern France mean that we have had to postpone our planned channel crossing for 24 hours.

"We have a special mission to deliver a commemorative wreath to the official Western Front Association ceremony in Amiens on Wednesday (August 13), 100 years to the day from the arrival of the first aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps in support of the British Expeditionary Force.

"Our initial plan was to fly to Headcorn in Kent on Monday morning.

"We would then fly in formation with two BE-2e aircraft shipped from New Zealand by the WW1 Aviation Heritage Trust, along the white cliffs for a photo-shoot with some modern RAF aircraft between Folkestone and Dover, before heading across the channel to Abbeville, prior to heading on to Amiens on Wednesday.

"However the remnants of Hurricane Bertha, seem intent on keeping us waiting."

The current 'plan B' involves routing via Headcorn on Tuesday, flying along the white cliffs around lunchtime.

Mr Slater added: "We will then route via an overnight halt at Abbeville and on to Amiens.

"This is all, of course, still subject to the wind and weather.

"The poor gust response of the aircraft and its low cruising speed make them particularly susceptible to high winds.

"We always built a weather window into our plans, so now we are using it."