Goodwood Revival Report

Friday 16th September - Sunday 18th September 2011

The Goodwood Revival - held over a three day weekend of the 16-18 September - featured as its centrepiece a commemoration of the Spitfire's 75th anniversary. Although Goodwood is now more famous as a horse and motor racing circuit, it has a proud history as a wartime airfield. Then known as RAF Westhampnett - a satellite of Tangmere - the 11 Group airfield was the home of 145 Squadron flying Hurricanes and 602 on Spitfires at the height of the Battle of Britain. With Reginald Mitchell's superb fighter being developed and flown for the first time not far away, it was therefore a very fitting location to host the year's largest gathering of airworthy Spitfires.

Phil Whalley donned his tweed jacket and cap, and with Audrey Hepburn on his arm, took in the unique occasion to bring this report.

Although not an airshow as such, the Goodwood Revival includes much of interest for the aviation enthusiast, who should really make the effort to attend in period costume. It is an 'all-ticket' event, with all 138,000 of them selling out. The flying element consists of a small number of sweeping-pass style displays staggered throughout the day, with 2011 being an entirely Spitfire preserve except for a brief moment when two were joined by a Lancaster as the BBMF 'package'. On the ground, located on the edge of the airfield, which itself is positioned inside the race circuit, is the 'Freddie March Spirit of Aviation', offering a collection of classic aircraft parked without barriers, all in pristine condition. Sally B was the largest aircraft in attendance, and possibly the biggest to land at the small airfield. HAC's immaculate Hawker Fury I was awarded the Freddie March concours d'elegance Trophy, with ARCo's beautiful, newly restored De Havilland Beaver in second spot. It really is a nice.......example! The RNHF Swordfish was voted in third place. Also of note were a Percival Provost, De Havilland Leopard Moth, De Havilland Dragonfly, a Buchon, Waco UPF7 and Harvard. The Schneider Trophy - which played a major part in the development of the Spitfire - was the subject of a static display which included a wonderful mock-up of the Supermarine S6B and the replica of the blue prototype Spitfire K5054.

Each morning kicked off early with a 'dawn patrol' of a pair of Spitfires circling around as if looking for 'trade', giving the arriving visitors on site - and those queuing to get in - a taste of things to come. Each day's flying varied in content, but all included a number of mixed Spitfire formations, plus the aforementioned BBMF Lancaster joining their Marks Vb and IIa, with the latter sporting its new scheme as EB-G, paying tribute to one of the greatest RAF Aces of the Second World War, Flight Lieutenant Eric Lock. To mark the 95th Anniversary of 41 Squadron, also based at RAF Coningsby, the BBMF has changed the markings on Spitfire P7350 to EB-G, as carried by Spitfire N3162, Lock's aircraft in 1940. Lock was flying this aircraft on 5 September 1940 when he shot down four German aircraft and was himself wounded. Eric Lock went on to become the RAF's most successful pilot of the Battle of Britain. Modern research shows that he achieved 21 kills during the period of the Battle, although at the time he was officially credited with only 16½ confirmed kills.

Undoubted highlight amongst the attending Spitfires was ARCo's newly restored Spitfire I P9374 which was making its flying display debut at Goodwood flown by John Romain. This is an exquisite restoration and a joy to behold. The planned mass formation of Spitfires was due to take place on the Sunday afternoon but the weather approaching the scheduled time was putting that in doubt. A heavy rain front moved through though, and with a break visible in the cloud beyond there looked to be a chance that it might indeed happen. With the crews sitting in the cockpits ready to start, it was just a matter of waiting until the 'minimums' were met. Eventually clearance was given and ten Spitfires took to the air, including those already mentioned plus HAC's MkV, TFC's MkV and MkXIV, OFMC's LF IX MH434, Peter Monk's Mk IX TA806, ARCo's IXT, and The Boultbee Flight Academy's IXT. Also in attendance but not to take part in the displays were the 'Grace' Spitfire IXT and Peter Monk's second Mk IX, MK912, which had only been in the UK for a couple of weeks. Since its static appearance at the Biggin Hill Open Day the previous weekend this import had lost its 'Russell' and Mickey Mouse markings. The sight of so many Spitfires in formation is a sight beyond description, and one that those in attendance won't forget easily.

The weather did its best to spoil the weekend, and at times the heavy rain caused serious problems for those wearing period costume. A Kate Middleton in full wedding dress attire traipsing through the mud isn't something you'll see at many events! The Goodwood racing circuit is based upon the wartime airfield's perimeter road, creating an indelible link with its historic past. The Goodwood Revival event brings that history to life in an inimitable style and with an atmosphere like no other. A truly unique event.