A 94-year-old veteran has taken to the skies in a World War Two plane, in what is likely to be his last ever flight.

Sandy Saunders, from Leicestershire, suffered 40 per cent burns when his plane crashed just after the war ended, and was given skin grafts by pioneering New Zealand surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe.

The patients became known as the Guinea Pig Club due to the experimental nature of the surgery. Photo / BBC
The patients became known as the Guinea Pig Club due to the experimental nature of the surgery. Photo / BBC

The patients became known as the Guinea Pig Club due to the experimental nature of the surgery.

Saunders, one of the last surviving members of the club, donned his flying jacket, scarf and goggles to be flown in a Tiger Moth - the same type of plane in which he crashed in 1945 - as part of a BBC tribute show due to be aired on Monday night.

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Saunders, who now has terminal cancer, suffered severe burns to his face, legs and hands after escaping from a burning cockpit moments before losing consciousness. The aircraft's navigator was killed in the same crash.

After waking up in hospital, Mr Saunders, who was 22 at the time, had "eight or nine" operations before he was sent to Sir Archibald.

At the time, he was having problems closing his eyes as his skin grafts had shrunk. The Guinea Pig club was set up as a drinking group for patients at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, west Sussex, by Sir Archibald in July 1941.

Many of the 649 members fought in the Battle of Britain, although many were from Canada, Australia, America and eastern Europe. Mr Saunders said before the war, people with extensive burns usually died or were left disfigured.

Plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe in 1951. Photo / Supplied
Plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe in 1951. Photo / Supplied

"It's no picnic to have operation after operation," he has previously said.

"The first time I saw my face, which was about two or three months after my burns had healed sufficiently, I was quite shocked and very depressed.

"McIndoe was very keen to restore people not only to an acceptable appearance, but also to be psychologically sound."

Mr Saunders, who was inspired to become a GP after watching Sir Archibald operate, planned the construction of a £20,000 (NZ$34,477) memorial at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Sandy Saunders with the Duke of Edinburgh in November, at the unveiling of a memorial to the Guinea Pig Club. Photos / Getty Images
Sandy Saunders with the Duke of Edinburgh in November, at the unveiling of a memorial to the Guinea Pig Club. Photos / Getty Images

This article was originally published by The Telegraph.