Now in its 16th year, the annual Goodwood Revival is, perhaps, the world’s premier vintage motor racing event. Held on the famous Sussex race course, owned by Lord Freddie March, this is something of a mecca for motoring enthusiasts across the world. In fact, the event is so popular that advanced tickets sales are now capped, and the show was completely sold out by the end of July. Greg Marsh reports for GAR, with images as credited.
An important aspect of the Revival is that aviation always plays a key part in proceedings, both on the ground and in the air. That said, it would be remiss of me to ignore some of the other attractions on offer, especially to those readers who have never sampled Goodwood.
It’s a cliché, sure, but it’s no exaggeration to say that entering the race track is akin to walking through a time warp, with very little to remind you that you are in the 21st century. The attention to period detail is astounding and it’s helped that the majority of visitors dress up for the event. By my low standards, I was in fairly smart attire but I have to mention GAR’s Huw Hopkins, who really entered into the spirit and came in full USAAF uniform!
Flying displays have always formed a key part of the Revival since the inaugural event in 1998. Generally, these are interspersed among the races and trackside events and are more of a side order to the motor racing’s main course.
Unique in the UK are the early morning “Dawn Patrol” slots which, this year, saw the Old Flying Machine Company’s (OFMC) Spitfire Mk.IX and P-51D Mustang overfly the track whilst visitors arrived. It’s a nice touch for the early bird arrivals, whilst not being a traditional display routine.
Displays at the Goodwood Revival are always unusual due to the nature of the track. As the track and public enclosures circle the airfield completely, the B-axis is nonexistent. Instead, aircraft have to fly along a slightly curved A-axis, overflying sterile zones at two points of the track made free of spectators for each flying slot. Obviously, this creates a challenging environment for any display pilot, and only the most experienced aviators usually fly at the venue.
Formation routines are often sweeping passes but these are always incredibly striking. Flown on numerous occasions throughout the weekend was a box four of OFMC’s Mustang and Spitfire, alongside The Fighter Collection’s P-40B and P-40F Warhawks. The weather sadly didn’t play ball for most of the show and all credit to pilots Nigel Lamb, Lee Proudfoot, Pete Kynsey and Carl Schofield for making it look easy in poor conditions. Unfortunately, the weather closed in on Sunday afternoon, denying the crowd a chance to see these in action.
It’s a shame we didn’t see a bit more of the P-40s as the OFMC fighters were also showcased as a pair on several occasions, with some tight formation passes on Friday morning and a stunning evening routine on Saturday. This is a Revival tradition and is performed for the benefit of the guests attending the themed ball in a large marquee. Messrs Lamb and Proudfoot were on outstanding form; cloud having lifted sufficiently for them to perform their full aerobatic display.
Ferocious Frankie sounded particularly glorious with her new Packard Merlin engine. The weekend marked the first public displays by the OFMC pair since the Mustang’s overhaul and it was well worth the wait. The still evening air really accentuates the engine notes meaning the sound is quite unlike that experienced at any other airshow.
Lee Proudfoot also gave a stunning solo display on Sunday to fill in for the Lancaster, it being weathered in at RAF Coningsby. This is a real shame, as she was to have played a main role in the Revival’s tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster’s raid. Surivor Johnnie Johnson was a guest of honour and witnessed a special track parade by the Royal Marines band and specialist commentary. Lee brought the Spitfire low over the track to close the tribute before entering his main display. Considering the strong winds and cloud base, it was quite a sight to witness a masterful performance that showed the legendary MH434 off to full effect.
The BBMF’s appearances over the weekend were sadly limited to Saturday afternoon with a series of flypasts by Hurricane LF363 and two Spitfires – Mk.IX MK356 and Mk.XVI TD311. The fighters landed on in poor weather before departing early evening.
The star aircraft in the air was the Canberra PR9 owned by Midair. Having only recently flown in July, the aircraft made its public debut (albeit on static display) at the Royal International Air Tattoo in July. The Revival marked her first full flying display (Jersey was meant to be but the weather scuppered that). It’s fair to say that this aircraft will be a major star of any airshow she appears at next year and, in the meantime, the IWM Duxford Autumn Air Show in October.
Painted in a striking silver scheme, Midair Squadron hopes to be able to attract a sponsor which will have its logo emblazoned on the fuselage. Yes, this is controversial amongst enthusiasts, and I’ll admit to preferring to see a Canberra in an authentic scheme, but the hard facts are that sponsorship is necessary to prolong the flying career. Midair Squadron will market the PR9 as a three ship with a pair of Hunter T7s next year and I’m sure that I am not the only one salivating at the prospect of that formation.
So what of the display itself? Goodwood’s display line naturally means it was restricted to curved passes (in both “clean” and “dirty” configurations), but this was a tremendous sight nonetheless. The last fast pass was glorious, although the ‘dog leg’ display line meant pilots Dave Piper and Mike Leckey had to cut the power before they could achieve an even louder Avon howl!
The Canberra is not usually a type one associates with the Goodwood Revival, with the common theme normally being World War Two fighters. However, her appearance was due to Midair’s sponsorship of the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation gathering in the main aircraft paddock. This has become a regular fixture over the past six years and allows for a wonderful selection of pre-1966 machinery to be displayed at close quarters, and without barriers.
Dwarfing the other aircraft on show was Lufthansa’s Junkers Ju-52/3M, a UK regular at Duxford’s Flying Legends. The crew generously opened up the aircraft, allowing visitors the chance to sample the interior of this classic German transport. The Classic Air Force (CAF) deserves huge credit for battling the weather conditions on Saturday morning to arrive with its Avro Anson, Percival Proctor (making its first public appearance) and Dragon Rapide; the latter on pleasure flying duty. They had intended to arrive during the previous two days, but had been prevented from doing so by the dire conditions. Well done to the CAF for their dogged determination!
The Brooklands Aviation Museum had its Avro Biplane and Triplane transported in by road and also displayed an airworthy Avro 504K replica from Argentina! This machine has only recently been restored, and was a very surprising – but very welcome – addition.
Among the other notable items were Tracy Curtiss-Taylor’s lovely Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis, the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar’s Piper L-4 Grasshopper and a splendid Ryan STA, which won the Concours d‘Elegance for best presented aircraft. The based Boultbee Flight Academy also showcased its Tiger Moth and Spitfire TR.9 SM520. For £20, visitors were offered the chance to sit in the cockpit of the latter and they appeared to do a roaring trade over all three days.
The Goodwood Revival 2013 was another massive success and the event seemingly goes from strength to strength. It is always one of my favourite weekends of the year and has an unrivalled atmosphere. I really do recommend sampling the magic of Goodwood. It is quite unlike any other event you will attend. Be warned though, it is a very expensive event and probably makes RIAT look decidedly cheap!