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!

 

A fabulous weekend… Part 1 Saturday

Firstly apologies for the lack of updates over the Revival weekend, a combination of lack of WiFi and being so busy but we’ll try and rectify this now with some great pics from the most brilliant weekend of the year.

Saturday was a glorious day, clear skies, sunshine and all the sights, sounds and smells of historic racing and vintage fashion. Being part of the GRTC (Goodwood Revival Transport Corps) is great fun but very hard work, we are basically ‘on duty’ from 7.30am until the event finishes for the day and often beyond. Our remit is to keep the event running smoothly and transport, drivers, ViPs, staff, press, members etc around the circuit and between the house, hotel, Kennels and circuit, this all helps add to the feel of the event and is essential within the circuit where no post 66 vehicles are allowed. Of course we have to be in period dress and Mario’s ‘human’ Jane has the perfect excuse for a wardrobe of beautiful 50’s clothes and ever more flamboyant hats – Saturday was ladies day and the new essemble was rolled out including this fabulous rose hat recently acquired from Crinoline Lady on ebay. Jane’s outfits are of course put together to match Mario perfectly!

We met up with our friends from Deryshire who come every year dressed as James Bond and the evil villains complete with the most impressive picnic in a wheeled hamper complete with ‘lazy susan’ which could only have been designed by Q.We share the taxi rank with the Glam Cabs from the Carry on Movie, the attractive girls create a great deal of attention but they and the Cortina’s are set dressing and it is the rest of the cars which do the work. A mixture of traditional old style London taxi’s, Vauxhalls and other pre 66 vehicles. One of our group got given a great tip this year…First thing it is always busy collecting guests from the hotel but there is generally a lull mid morning and we took the opportunity for an hour or so off to look round the infield. We’d timed our visit to perfection meeting Jean Alesi in the paddock, he appeared very interested in Mario and kept his card so who knows he may be reading this…

 

Next we saw the cars leave the paddock for the Settrington Cup – this newly introduced ‘race’ was for A40 Pedelcars driven by 5-10 year olds who all looked so cute.

We then head off to have a look round the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours for planes, there were some beautiful and usual entries including a great flying boat with an amazing bubble cabin. While wandering around the Spitfires took off for one of their displays so we had the perfect view.

On the way back to the taxi’s we spotted the St Mary’s paddock and a 4cv – Mario was delighted to see this racing version of his ‘brother Regie’ and even more impressed that it was called ‘Little Regie’ we will be able to see it on the track on Sunday.

After our interlude it was back to work, lots of runs up to the Kennels for lunch, out to Lavant which always gives a good opportunity to catch a little track action and back to the hotel. We meet such a lot of lovely people and hear all about the weekend from so many different viewpoints, it’s always fascinating to hear how the day has gone for the drivers.

Saturday always finishes a little early as all the teams and sponsors are off to the ball. It’s a bit manic for us as everybody wants to get back quickly to change into their costumes – this year the theme was Dr Zhivago, lots of fur and cossacks, we didn’t get to go this year but apparently there was lots of snow, pretty amazing in an aircraft hanger in Sussex! Finishing a bit early gave us the chance to see what was going on ‘Over the Road’, new for this year entertainment went on into the evening and the period fairground looked pretty in the dark. We popped into see the Haslemere Wardrobe who are our vintage partners in the Haslemere Classic Car Show that we organise. They’d been having a great weekend and introduced us to a lovely couple who had just got engaged in a De Havilland Dragon Rapide while flying above the circuit, how romantic is that? The pic shows John, Kate and others from Haslemere Wardrobe pointing at the ring.

Well that’s Saturday over, Mario had completed nearly 200km by now and used 19 litres of fuel so he was ready for a rest and the humans off for a much needed supper. Report on Sunday to follow…

 

 

 

 

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.