Respect the few…

After a very busy weekend at the Goodwood Revival with Mario (full blog to follow shortly), we went back to Goodwood today for the Battle of Britain Flypast.

42dabe_cf5bbda3e428476ca5cab297ea3aaea8.png_srz_p_178_160_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srz“SO MUCH OWED BY SO MANY TO SO FEW”DSC05079

Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Battle of Britain and to honour the ‘few’ around 40 Spitfires and Hurricanes took off from Goodwood for a special flight – the most Battle of Britain aircraft to fly together since WW2. From Goodwood the planes dispersed around the South of England so as many people as possible saw a Spitfire in the sky on the anniversary.

The atmosphere at the circuit was electric with a round of applause as each flight took off. One plane had to abort his take off but obviously managed to solve the problem and took off solo at the end to the biggest round of applause of the lot – just image owning a Spitfire and failing to take part in the biggest event ever since the war!

Also taking part was the only flying Blenheim bomber.

The Battle of Britain – the first decisive battle in history to take place entirely in the air – took place between May and September 1940 with Germany trying to destroy the UK’s air defences. The great sacrifices of the ‘few’ brave men of the RAF gave Britain an advantage and changed the course of the war. The climax of the Battle of Britain was on the 15th of September when 1500 aircraft took part in a battle that lasted until dusk. Watching Spitfire after Spitfire take off from what was RAF Westhampnett was an amazing experience and gave just a little feel of what it must have been like to see wave after wave of planes take off for the battle that changed the war.

A few of the Spitfires are two seaters and one of the original pilots was a passenger today, the other seat was intended for Prince Harry but he gave up his ride for an Afghanistan war veteran.

Tens of thousands of people were gathered at the airfield today to watch this historical event and to show respect and say thank you to those who gave so much to save so many.DSC05090 DSC05064 DSC05061 DSC05059 DSC05053 DSC05051 DSC05050 DSC05046 DSC05043 DSC05037 DSC05036 DSC05033 DSC05026 DSC05025 DSC05016 DSC04998 DSC04996 DSC04993 DSC04992 DSC04986 DSC04983 DSC04982 DSC04973 DSC04970

Chocks away…

Last week we were lucky enough to have a tour of the engineering hanger at the Goodwood Airfield. This trip was organised through Goodwood’s ‘416 Forum’. We met in the evening at the Aero Club where we were welcomed by Rob Wildboer the Goodwood aviation general manager –  a man who lives and breathes aircraft.

Rob’s introduction told us a lot about the fascinating history and general running of the Goodwood aerodrome. Freddie March, Grandfather of the present Lord March, had a great interesting planes and begun to  design and build aeroplanes at Goodwood before the War from his ‘Flying Field’ adjacent to Goodwood House.

The actual aerodrome started during WW2 as RAF Westhampnett as a satellite to nearby RAF Tangmere. It was used during the Battle of Britain when two fighter squadrons were based there. Flying aces such as Douglas Bader and Tony Gaze favoured Goodwood to fly from. The Motor Circuit was created from the perimeter road in 1948 and since then the airfield has developed to provide first class engineering, flying training and aerodrome operations. Rob joined Goodwood as an apprentice in 1986 and his worked his way up to run the whole operation, as such he is a mine of information and has endless interesting and amusing stories about flying at Goodwood.Unknown3 men at od plane lrg462x337

We then went to the engineering hanger where Goodwood has a thriving business maintaining a large number of private planes. There were a number currently in the hanger and Rob gave us an insight on the sort of work that is done. My favourite was a tow plane from Lasham Gliding School, very basic, I think Rob called it a ‘flying tractor’ it had real character and looked like it had come straight from a ‘Pixar movie’.DSC05649 DSC05650 DSC05654 DSC05664 DSC05665 DSC05669Listening to Rob’s stories reminded me of one of the early Revivals when Mario was asked to work on the airfield. We had to collect passengers and take them to their planes. This wasn’t as simple as it sounds as we had to have CAA clearance to cross the runways and had to be escorted by an airfield Land Rover in constant contact with the control tower. The aerodrome is always very busy over the event weekends and there are quite a number of small aircraft parked up but I was pretty amazed that people couldn’t remember where they had left their plane and Mario spent quite a lot of time running up and down the rows waiting for the passengers to ‘spot’ their aircraft, just like Sainsbury’s carpark!DSCN2553

Around the same time some of the GRTC Taxi team were lucky enough to be able to watch the Saturday evening air display from the roof of one of the airfield buildings, this was spectacular watching the Spitfires and Mustangs flying in the sunset. This display is the start of the Revival Ball and the aircraft come into land and taxi over to the hanger where the party guests, weather permitting, are outside at the reception. The pilots are dressed in black tie and silk scarfs and look brilliant as the descend from the cockpit to be greeted by a lady in evening dress offering champagne! At one years party (when we were working) one of the pilots had forgotten their cufflinks and so had to fashion a pair with some spare nuts and bolts from a Spitfire, I’m sure it was a missed business opportunity.DSCN5165DSC03206 DSCN2568 DSCN8810 DSCN8824DSCN4232The air displays are always a big feature of the Revival and as Mario takes members of the press out around the circuit we often get a really good view of whats going on, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is always impressive but a couple of years ago the incredible sight of 10 Spitfires flying in formation was spine tingling.DSC03514 DSC03809 DSC03811DSCN8791 DSCN8793 DSCN8802 DSCN8809DSCN3915DSCN3921

 

Planes at the Revival aren’t just restricted to the air… at one Revival a plane took part in the   track parade and taxied a lap.DSCN3385DSCN3386

At the 2013 Revival on what was ‘Battle of Britain Sunday’, Goodwood honoured the ‘Dambusters’ on their 70th anniversary. Earlier in the day Mario had been called to carry a very special passenger Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, at 91 the last surviving member of the Dambusters raid but although we met him, we were unable to drive to the infield and so alternative arrangements had to be made, a shame as it would have been a great honour for Mario to give him a ride, still, Rod one of the long standing GRTC drivers got the honour of driving him onto the grid for the tribute.523c55257cecd-Johnnie-Johnson-in-the-Dambusters-Tribute.

While Mario finds all the aviation at Goodwood exciting he intends to keep his four wheels firmly on the ground!

 

Not all the action was on the ground…

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While there is so much going on at the Revival, one mustn’t forget to look to the sky for some great action. Here are a few pics of an assortment of arial moments – the Spitfire flying over Thursday’s cricket match, the sun setting behind the parked up Spitfire on Thursday evening, Sally B from the Spirit of Aviation display, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on Saturday and the amazing sight of 10 Spitfires flying together on Sunday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Spitfire.