Goodwood Revival Air Displays

The aircraft element of this year’s Goodwood Revival was in some ways more prominent than usual, with the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours being dedicated to Battle of Britain aircraft in anticipation of the former RAF Westhampnett becoming the focal point of national commemorations for the 75th anniversary. What this meant was an abundance of Spitfires, a smattering of Hurricanes and the lone Bristol Blenheim standing in all their glory on the airfield to be enjoyed up close by the visitors to the event.

In the air, however, the pall of nearby Shoreham still hung heavily over proceedings. The flying elements – a daily ‘Dawn Patrol’, scheduled flyovers by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and performances by aircraft stationed at Goodwood for the weekend – were little more than gentle circuits that dipped down over the runway before climbing out to perform another circuit. The only non-WW2 aircraft scheduled to perform, the Avro Vulcan bomber, did not appear due to a technical fault in the landing gear.

The only opportunity provided for a proper air display was over the cricket match on Thursday night, during which a spectacular display was put on by the lone Spitfire. Elsewhere through the weekend, the heroes of the show were the Old Flying Machine Company’s pair of movie stars – Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MH434, a stalwart of the Revival, and P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie.

MH434 is the only flying Spitfire to have never been fully restored. She was first flown by aviation aces, securing an enviable record in WWII, before the late Ray Hanna, a founder member of the RAF Red Arrows, bought her as the anchor of his historic flying circus, the Old Flying Machine Company.

Ray’s exploits in MH434 remain legendary, including the famous ‘buzz’ of Alain de Cadenet, flying down the start/finish straight at Goodwood lower than the pit garage roof and flying through the Winston Bridge in County Durham for a scene in the TV adaptation of Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake. This latter appearance was one of many film roles to date such as A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, Hope & Glory and Battle of Britain.

In her regular position alongside MH434, P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie also drew admiring glances. Frankie also had an enviable war career, followed by second place overall in the Reno air races. Since she was added to the Old Flying Machine Company stable, the Mustang has become another movie regular with roles in Saving Private Ryan, Memphis Belle, Hart’s War and an iconic presence in Stephen Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.

The other pair working the line at Goodwood was The Fighter Collection’s pair of Curtiss Hawks. A novelty for many, the Curtiss Hawk 75 is the only airworthy example of the Curtiss P-36 lineage left anywhere in the world. Flying in the colours of the French Armee de l’Air, she was joined by one of only two P-40F fighters still airworthy, the sole Hawk type to be fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

Of course the highlight of the weekend for many was the flypast by 12 Hurricanes and Spitfires. And it was great – not least thanks to the presence of war veterans now well into their tenth decade, the backdrop of film and speech and music and the general level of reverence being offered up before the aircraft swooped in.

All in all, it was done very well indeed.

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2 thoughts on “Goodwood Revival Air Displays

  1. What fantastic pictures.

    Over here in Australia I am fortunate to live reasonably close to Avalon Airport where every two years we have a huge international air show where I go to touch the old war birds and close to RAAF Point Cook (formerly No1 Flying School RAAF) where there is a splendid museum and daily flying and occasional air pageants. We are also very fortunate that The Temora Museum flight often fly down for events so we get to see a Pacific theatre Spitfire, Mustangs and Kittyhawks,

    Many years ago I took my late Grandfather who was a hero of the Siege of Malta G.C. to the Avalon airshow. His reaction to the sight of a parked Spitfire is something that will stay with me to my grave. He hugged the undercarriage, stroked the fuselage and wings with tears streaming down his face told all and sundry how the pilots who flew them saved his little country.

    The planes owner asked him if he wanted to sit in the cockpit and he agreed to. When he came down the planes owner had gotten permission to clear an area around the plane which we did and he fired up the Merlin.

    There is nothing in the world, no symphony no concerto, no rock classic that sounds as beautiful as the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin on song.

    After he shut it down my grandfather went over to thank the owner. He explained that he was an artillery man during the war manning the AA guns in the Grand Harbour and had only once before in 1942 sat in the cockpit of a Spitfire V when he had gone over to TaQali to meet a couple of Australian fighter pilots on some operational matter and they offered him the opportunity to sit in it.

    One day I intend to get to Europe, to go to Malta G.C, to visit the Western Front battlefields of WW1 and to do a pilgrimage of the fighter bases and Museums in the U.K. I will definitely be attending Goodwood.

    I have an obsession with motor sport especially the cars and drivers of the post war era up to the early 1980’s so Goodwood would tick all my boxes. Here where I live in Geelong, Victoria we have an annual Speed Trials. Originally based on the Brighton (U.K.) event it went into recess for a number of years on the early 2000’s but the years ago came back to life as the Geelong Revival and uses many cues of the Goodwood event around historical vehicles and people attending in Period Dress however there are no aircraft.

    Thanks for your photos and for giving me the space for my meanderings. You have a brilliant blog.

    Tally Ho,

    Patrick.

    • Patrick, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. We should organise an exchange as I fully intend to explore Australia to the fullest, to witness the Bathurst 1000 and catch up with a lot of racing ockers – and in visiting God’s own hemisphere it would be remiss not to dip across to New Zealand and Peter Jackson’s amazing aeroplanes. You’ll be welcome here of course. Here’s to your grandfather and that amazing generation.

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