From an aerobatic 1936 Focke-Wulf Fw44J Stieglitz, formerly owned by the Swedish Air Force, to a 1974 Bölkow BO-105CB helicopter, every echelon of aviation is represented, resplendent on the manicured grass.
One of the most historic models is the Bristol Scout biplane, which was first flown in 1914 and soon becoming the prototype single-seat fighter due to its unique combination of speed and manoeuvrability. It saw active service in the hands of Flight Sub Lieutenant FDH Bremner, who flew it from Imbros and Thassos in Greece. Incredibly, in 1983 the stick, rudder bar and magneto were found by his grandson who, with Theo Willford, researched and rebuilt the aircraft to its exact original specifications, making it the only airworthy Bristol Scout in the world.
Displaying the advances made by aviation in just 25 short years, the Douglas C41A was an American Airlines sleeper transport aircraft, which was delivered in September 1939 and requisitioned by Major General Henry (Hap) Arnold as a VIP transport, while being based at Bolling Army Airfield in Washington DC. To date, it has only amassed 9,500 flying hours and retains its original tail insignia and bare metal finish.
In the air each morning, too, we’ve been treated to Spitfires soaring above the historical RAF Westhampnett, retracing their wartime flight paths through the Sussex sky. They may be but three in number (as a result of ever-tightening air controls), but they are complemented by a cool contingent of warbirds earth-side. The Westhampnett Display features a quintet of Spitfires, a 1940 Hawker Hurricane Mk X and a 1953 North American Harvard, all in a condition that belies their incredible past.
Countless other cool flyers complete the field. You’d be mad to miss it.
Photography by Tom Shaxson.