Today the Goodwood Revival’s combination of motor racing, on-track demonstrations, flying displays and the wonderful Freddie March Spirit of Aviation aeronautical concours is perfectly familiar.
When Goodwood had an airshow and a car show on one day
Once abandoned by the Royal Air Force at the end of the war, our RAF Westhampnett site had lain fallow for some years beyond 1948 when its perimeter track was first used for motor racing. The infield Goodwood aerodrome was eventually re-opened – for civilian use – in 1957-58.
But it was in 1960 that a most prescient move was made, as Goodwood’s Easter Monday motor race meeting was combined with an airshow.
Flight magazine reported that “In the first sustained good weather of the year, a total of 102 aircraft visited Goodwood on Easter Monday for the aircraft display and the motor racing which followed it… The idea of a flying display and business aircraft exhibition was to demonstrate what a practical form of transport business aircraft could be, and the sunny weather and the motor racing crowds on the roads around Goodwood were persuasive reminders of the advantages of travel by air…”
However, even the most daring and thorough of event organisers sometimes get things wrong. That aerophile 1960 report continued “…it must be recorded that it was made nearly as difficult for those who came to watch the motor racing to see the aeroplanes, as it was for those who came by aeroplane to get a good view of the racing… It was clear that the British Automobile Racing Club (which organised the meeting) regarded the airfield and the aeroplanes as a sideshow, and on Easter Monday it was not made easy for visitors to get a good view of the new aircraft lined up on display. Aircraft were parked a long way from the paddock and access to the airfield itself was discouraged. Once flying began the airfield was closed and, subsequently, when the shiny and desirable new aeroplanes were drawn up along the enclosure fence, most of the spectators had already departed to seek vantage positions from which to watch the motor racing. But,” their reporter added, “the flying part of the display was splendid”!
The then new Lycoming-engined Auster D4 and the Jodel D117 took off first. Then followed “the dainty” Linnet and the MetaSokol, and the former “diced in no uncertain fashion fast and low over the stands”. Peter Masefield’s dayglo-orange De Havilland Chipmunk joined in the fun. As the first pair landed, the Percival Prospector took off, straight into a steep climb while four Cessnas – 150, 175, 210 and 310 - taxied out to follow. The 150 climbed high before tumbling into a breath-taking spin, the 175 “turned sharply off the deck” while the 210 demonstrated “its remarkably steep climb and the neat and clever retraction of its undercarriage”.
Next aloft was the pale-green Cessna 210, followed by the Wichita company’s competition: a quartet of Piper aircraft, the Super Cub, TriPacer, Comanche and Apache. The Cub looped before “hovering almost stationary” as the Comanche “tore up and down past the stands”. The Apache showed off “the fashion among the twins of feathering and restarting the ‘difficult’ engine in each turn”. The Italian Piaggio P166 and the Czech-built Super Aero followed, the Piaggio being displayed “most energetically, ending with a rousing full-throttle, downhill, down-wind run very low over the heads of the crowd…”.
This excitement was followed by a foretaste of what Revival would first offer, 38 years later, “a nostalgic duet by Jeffrey Quill, Spitfire-mounted, and Bill Bedford in a Hurricane. The Spitfire opened the show with two cracking upward rolls and as the Hurricane dived to join mock battle the Spitfire streaked in again underneath. For four or five glorious minutes they gambolled happily at low level, turning inside each other, tail-chasing, and then pulling ‘g’ to keep within the confines of the circuit. Then they came wingtip to wingtip low across the field to break left and right above the heads of the crowd…”.
This nostalgic delight – only some 15-20 years after the RAF’s iconic fighter aircraft had been current – then gave way to an electrifying sight that I vividly recall from my teens. “Treble One squadron’s ‘Black Arrows’ 1960 Easter debut” featuring “a new formation – a ‘Treble One’ loop with nine aircraft… added as an opening manoeuvre”. Nine high-gloss jet-black Hawker Hunters wheeling-in over the grandstands in the tightest diamond formation imaginable, and as they cleared the aerodrome’s airspace the sister formation of five more streaked into sight. Flight’s report concluded “…generous use of smoke made their formation-changing easier to appreciate and the finale was a loop and diving bomb burst with smoke by the nine, and an upward Prince of Wales feathers break by the five…”. What a sight to see, indeed.
One inspired photographer present that day was my late friend and colleague Geoffrey Goddard. He took a break from photographing the familiar racing cars to shoot many of the aircraft in that fenced-off display. Today it’s interesting to study his work and consider the subsequent careers of several individual aircraft that he photographed that sunny Goodwood day.
To start with the Spitfire and Hurricane. Both survive today within the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Serial ‘AB910’ was a 1941-built Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vb. It’s a veteran of the hectic four-day air battle supporting the June 1942 Dieppe Raid over the French coast. It served with No 133 Squadron and Flt Sgt ‘Dixie’ Alexander flew it in shooting down a Luftwaffe Dornier 217. It was re-issued later to 416 Sqd based at Tangmere – for which permanent base RAF Westhampnett (Goodwood) was a grass field satellite station – and then with 402 San (RCAF) it flew cover over the Normandy landings.
In 1946 it was acquired privately by Group Captain Allan Wheeler and went onto the UK Civil Register as G-AISU. From 1955-65 it was then owned and preserved by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd until it passed to the RAF’s fledgling BBMF, in whose hands it has flourished ever since. A happy story.
The Easter Monday Goodwood 1960 Hawker Hurricane ‘PZ865’ was actually the very last of the 14,533 produced, and was aptly named ‘Last of the Many’. It first flew at Langley, Buckinghamshire, on July 22nd, 1944 and was then retained by Hawker. In 1950 it was civilian-registered ‘G-AMAU’ and it was flown in that year’s King’s Cup Air race by Group Captain Peter Townsend. It was used subsequently as a chase ’plane in flight development of the P1127 Kestrel VSTOL fighter which became the (now lamented) production Harrier. This Hurricane flew in filming of the ‘Battle of Britain’ movie 1968 – and was gifted by Hawker-Siddeley to the BBMF in 1972.
Sadly, some of those Easter Monday Goodwood show ‘planes were not so lucky. The Cessna 175A Skylark had begun life US-registered as ‘N6944E’ before in January 1960 joining the UK Register as ‘G-APYA’. It went into Irish ownership as ‘EI-AND’ in August 1963 and on October 30th, 1994, it disappeared from radar over the Irish Sea about 15 nautical miles North East of Anglesey, North Wales. Eight days later the body of the sole passenger was recovered from the sea just off Laxey, Isle of Man. Neither the pilot nor any substantial wreckage was found until January 1995 when a fishing trawler netted some wreckage two miles north of Anglesey.
The twin-engined Cessna 310 twin G-APUF lived on to be listed as “wfu” (withdrawn from use) in 1970, while the gorgeous De Havilland DH104 Dove 2B – ‘G-AKJG’ – would be written-off after an engine fire and crash landing at Old, near Northampton, on January 20th 1965. It had been en route from Sywell to Bristol/Filton. Happily the pilot – sole occupant – survived.
Equally happily Orlican L-40 Meta Sokol – ‘G-APVU’ – built in 1958, is, I believe, still around and registered. In contrast, the Edgar Percival Prospector – ‘G-AOZO’ – crashed tragically on July 2nd, 1980, while on a parachuting flight at Ashford aerodrome. Investigators concluded that water-contaminated fuel had caused power loss, after which the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground, killing the pilot and five other occupants.
Back at the turn of the 1950s and ’60s, the immediately post-war French-based British racing driver Patrick Garland – who campaigned a sports Delage D6 – had joined Doug Bianchi in building the pretty little Garland-Bianchi Linnet 1 prototype – ‘G-APNS’ – as a version of the French Piel Emeraude light aircraft meeting British airworthiness requirements. It had first flown at Fairoaks, Woking, Surrey, in September 1958. The Garland Aircraft Company built two more Linnets, one sold Fairflight was re-styled as the Fairtravel Linnet. I believe ‘APNS’ was de-registered as recently as 2009…
The featured Czech-built Let Super Aero 45 Series 4 – 'G-APRR' – with its distinctive ‘bay window’ nose glazing, had been built new in 1956 and joined the UK Register in January 1959. It was well-received at Easter Monday Goodwood 1960 but, ironically, 49 years later, on February 28th, 2009, it was damaged beyond economic repair when taking off from Blackbushe Airport, near Camberley, bound for… Goodwood. The AAIB report explained that during its take-off run it swung left and the pilot’s correction induced an oscillation in yaw. Believing the aircraft had achieved flying speed the pilot then attempted to lift off, “...after which the aircraft stalled causing the right wing to strike the ground. The aircraft then came to rest in a gorse bush to the right of the runway”. Mercifully all three occupants escaped with only minor injuries… And gorse bushes are prickly.
That Easter Monday’s Piper PA22-160 TriPacer – ‘G-APXM’ – then just a year old – was finally scrapped on June 27th, 1989.
The Jodel D117 – ‘G-APOZ’ – was actually the first Jodel on the UK Register, in September, 1958. But on August 13th, 1965, it was written-off in a forced landing at Wembury, Devon, while flying from Teversham to Plymouth Roborough. Its pilot – the lone occupant – survived. As did the pilot of the Easter Monday Goodwood Piper PA22-160 TriPacer – ‘G-APXM’ – on October 7th, 1978, when it was written-off at Dunkeswell, Devon. And the Piper PA18 Super Cub – ‘G-APZJ’ – ran out of luck on June 12th, 1983, at Bick March Gliding Centre near Evesham, spinning in after a glider-towing takeoff, though fortunately its 21-year-old pilot, again, survived.
And of course when it comes to Treble One Squadron’s ‘Black Arrows’ display team, it still holds the record for the largest number of individual aircraft looped in tight formation – no fewer than 22 Hunters at an unforgettable 1958 Farnborough Air Show – another vivid teenage memory.
Doug Nye began writing about racing cars at ‘Motor Racing’ magazine in 1963-64. Today he is a multiple award-winning motor sports journalist and author of over 50 years’ experience, with some 70 books to his name. He is Goodwood Motorsport’s founding Historian and consultant and fulfils similar roles for Bonhams Auctioneers and the Collier Collection/Revs Institute in Naples, FL, USA. He is a member of the National Motor Museum Advisory Council at Beaulieu, Hants, and is a regular columnist for ‘Motor Sport’ magazine, while contributing to many other specialist periodicals worldwide.
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