2012 Articles

SEP 26 2012
Airshows >> UK: Goodwood Revival 2012 Review

Virtually everyone was dressed up in vintage attire, ranging from Second World War military to 1930s Mafia Dons and 1960s retro! In the showground there’s something of interest to be found around every corner, be it a vintage vehicle, the old style shops or live music performances.

Automobiles are a huge part of the Revival, with races being held throughout the days. Wandering among the garages really is fascinating, with all manner of different vintage cars to be found. The public get a glimpse at all of the hard work that goes into maintaining these machines for racing, with the sound of clanging tools ringing out as something is frantically fixed ahead of a race and then the sudden roar of engines being tested!

Having walked through all of this in somewhat of a daze the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Concours d’Elegance was to be found on the edge of the airfield – the aircraft static paddock in which around 25 of the world’s finest, most elegant, original and rarely seen pre-1966 aircraft are judged for the esteemed Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Awards.

This year’s paddock held a diverse array of types, from the B.E.2 to Yak-11 and Stampe to Skyraider. De Havilland types were well represented with a Gypsy Moth, Tiger Moths, a Dragon Rapide and Chipmunks. The gleaming Vallentuna Aviatörförening Douglas DC-3 Dakota, having travelled from Sweden, also stood at one end of the paddock attracting a large amount of attention, as did Plane Sailing’s Catalina 'Miss Pick Up'.

The star for me had to be the Klemm L.25a-VI visiting from Germany. Brought in by road, this charismatic 1920s trainer made a flight on the Thursday evening before the show after being reassembled at Goodwood. The propeller on this aircraft is rather interesting in that it has LED lights inside the blades which can be switched on when it is running. On Saturday an engine run revealed that the lights actually made the logo of the aircraft’s sponsor - BMW - all very clever! Later the same evening we were also treated to a second flight, with the LEDs really standing out in the twilight sky!

The winner of this year’s Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Award was Bill Charney’s striking Beech Staggerwing ‘The Red Rockette’, currently on an around the world tour! 2nd place was awarded to de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide G-AGSH and tied in 3rd were the immaculate de Havilland DH.60G Gypsy Moth G-ABDA, restored after a forced landing in 2008, and the gorgeous Stinson 108-3 G-STSN that recently returned to flight after a restoration with RS Aircraft Services.

With there being no barriers around the aircraft the public are afforded a unique opportunity to inspect these fine machines at close quarters, or indeed have a picnic in their shade as often happens! The flying displays at the Revival are held in separate slots throughout the day when there are gaps in the races, so in between them time could be spent perusing the concourse at our leisure.

The edge of the paddock forms part of the crowd line and from the far corner of this is where we chose to watch the flying displays from, with the restrictions on flying displays yielding unique opportunities as aircraft have to follow the curved crowd line – GAR's Elliott Marsh talked to display organiser and pilot Alister Kay in 2010 about the intricacies of displaying at the show.

The Revival rarely publicises a great deal of information about flying participants beforehand, but this year saw the most information divulged yet – with Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs and a Thunderbolt all on the bill. Upon walking round to where the aircraft are parked we were pleased to see Spitfire Mk.IX MH434, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s (BBMF) Spitfire Mk.IIa and Mk.Vb, Peter Vacher’s and The Historic Aircraft Collection’s (HAC) Hurricanes, Mustangs 'Ferocious Frankie' and 'Miss Velma' and of course 'Snafu'! A third BBMF Spitfire, the MK.IXe, would also be arriving later in the day.

For the first slot of the morning, Steve Jones took off in MH434 followed by Stuart Goldspink and Flight Lieutenant Dave Harvey in Peter Vacher’s Hurricane I and HACs Hurricane XII respectively. Their display began with a number of formation passes, curving nice and close round the corner, before breaking, with the Hurricanes performing a tail chase and MH434 storming in for some solo aerobatics as they repositioned. It is this kind of unique choreography that runs throughout the Revival flying programme and that you simply don’t get anywhere else.

The next flying slot saw MH434 in action again, this time joined by Alister Kay in P-51D Mustang 'Ferocious Frankie' for the Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC) pair routine. As ever this was a showcase of some of the finest formation warbird aerobatics you’re likely to see, with the two seemingly stuck together with glue in the somewhat blustery wind conditions.

With no further flying until later in the evening we took some time to explore more of the showground, discovering a brilliant Bavarian beer and food outlet that brought back great memories of the Hahnweide Oldtimer Fliegertreffen a year previous! In general I must say the quality of catering at the Revival was top notch, with the only burger van I saw being American retro styled, which fit in perfectly! There were plenty of different cuisines to choose from, including Japanese, Thai and Italian – all freshly cooked! If only the same could be said for other airshows and events.

Whilst we were viewing some of the races from one of the trackside viewing areas, Christopher Gotke arrived in Naval Aviation Ltd’s Sea Fury T.20 for a special display above the showground, with lyrical aerobatics and wingovers aplenty. By this time the evening light was warm and rich, proving great for photography!

Shortly after Gotke departed for Yeovilton, the BBMF Spitfire Mk.IIa and Mk.Vb took to the air in order to formate with the Lancaster for the final aerial action of the day – a wonderful sight and sound to top it all off!

Saturday dawned crystal clear and as we approached Goodwood, Alister Kay could be seen flying a morning patrol up above in 'Ferocious Frankie', it’s just a shame that traffic meant we were not on site to watch it!

September 15th is Battle of Britain Day, an annual commemoration of the battle in the United Kingdom, and the Revival had something very special planned indeed. Mid-morning no less than six Merlin engines stirred into song as the four Spitfires and two Hurricanes scrambled down the Goodwood grass in pairs.

With only the slightest wisps of high cirrus cloud breaking the blue canvas above, the six fighters formed up in the very skies in which the battle was fought 72 years prior. The Spitfires led with a box four and the Hurricanes followed just behind in echelon formation. In all, they performed seven passes before breaking to land – banking around the curved crowd line seemingly close enough to touch.

The sight of these fighters wheeling around the sky over southern England on such a special day couldn’t fail to stir the emotions. Once again, the Revival had produced something unique and oh so very special. I had to take my trilby off to all those who organised this display and the pilots that flew it – Squadron Leader Ian Smith, Wing Commander Paul Godfrey, Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE, Steve Jones, Stuart Goldspink and Flight Lieutenant Dave Harvey – a mighty fine tribute to ‘The Few’.

In a change of pace and bringing somewhat of a different kind of noise was a pair of Hawker Hunter T.7s courtesy of the Hunter Flight Academy at Kemble. Chris Heames and Andy Hill brought WV318 and G-VETA round the bend to the faint hum of a blue note, pulling into a loop with vapour streaming from both jets! The display, whilst brief, was very impactful and a great way for Hunters to début at the Revival! In fact, the pair got the best audible reaction off ‘oooh’s and ‘aaahhh’s from the crowd out of all of the displays!

The Midair Canberra PR.9 that is being restored to flight at Kemble was supposed to join the Hunter pair, with information being released to the public just 2 weeks before the event, but unfortunately it just wasn’t ready in time. Surely though with two weeks to go it would have been clear as to whether the Canberra would have made it to the show, so I question why it was publicised.

One of the most eagerly anticipated participants of this year’s event was TFC’s P-47G Thunderbolt 'Snafu'. This was to be the first landing away from Duxford for the Jug, being flown over the weekend by TFC's chief pilot Pete Kynsey. To form a trio of American fighters he was joined by Paul Bonhomme and Alister Kay in 'Miss Velma' and 'Ferocious Frankie' respectively.

In a similar format to the Spitfire and Hurricanes' sequence their display began in formation before Kynsey took centre stage with a raucous and punchy solo in Snafu, fantastic to see at such close quarters as is afforded by the display line. Providing a lively account of North American’s finest fighter, the Mustang pair then returned for some OFMC calibre formation aerobatics – they really tore it up rather brilliantly!

It was soon time for the BBMF to take the stage again, this time with a slot all of their own. The Lancaster was joined by the trio of Spitfires, something not often seen, for some wonderful arcing passes in formation. Owing to the display restrictions, you’re able to see the BBMF performing something a little bit different to the norm. PA474 was resplendent in her new markings as KC-A ‘Thumper Mk III’ of 617 Squadron, a Lancaster that flew a total of 50 operations during the war.

The evening once again saw Christopher Gotke return for another Sea Fury solo as well as sorties from the BBMF Spitfire Mk.IXe and Mk.Vb, off on other display and flypast duties.

The Revival is renowned for having a late flying slot on the Saturday to entertain guests attending the ball after the roaring of racing cars has died away, this year being no exception. However, rather than the usual OFMC pair we were once again treated to the Mustang duo by Messrs Bonhomme and Kay, who tore down the runway and into the air just as the sun was dipping below the horizon.

There is something rather special about warbirds flying after the sun has set – the air becomes crisp, a slight chill descends and the noise of the engines cuts through with ease, sounding ever purer. The atmosphere of anticipation built as the pair formed up, the purr of the Merlins growing louder.

Diving in set against the ever changing hues of pink and purple, the pair pulled up into a loop only to be illuminated by the last rays of blood red sun as they pulled over the top – magnificent! They continued apace, as if on rails, describing graceful aerobatics and punchy low and fast passes – all the while the quintessential Mustang whistle echoing out into the twilight air. It doesn’t get much better than that, in all honesty!

Indeed, that is the resounding feeling I got from the entire Revival. The atmosphere is quite unlike that of any other event I have attended, there’s just a buzz about the place. For fans of warbirds and vintage aircraft nowhere else offers the same quality. Whilst it may not be the biggest airshow in terms of size, the unique pairings and combinations of aircraft, the closeness and the choreography of the displays is just outstanding!

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2012-09-27 - Anna Allen
What a brilliant and interesting review, made me feel I was right there watching it all with you!!

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