What we find are two pieces of machinery with matching silver liveries, emblazoned with IWC logos and a matching ‘G-IRTY’ serial number. One machine is a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 1954 ‘Gullwing’. The other, a 1944 Vickers Supermarine Spitfire MK IX, here to help promote the extraordinary ‘Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight’ expedition.
It’s an undertaking which is set to take the two pilots four months to complete. Flying 27,000 miles, and stopping in 30+ countries, sharing legs as they go. The plane they will be flying around the world isn’t actually here at all. This is a ‘back-up’ Spitfire to the real G-IRTY, currently undergoing extensive restoration and modification in time for their first flight.
Once revealed, the genuine G-IRTY – also a MK IX Spitfire which flew 51 combat missions during the Second World War – will be even more impressive, with a polished aluminium finish creating a mirror-like appearance. That decision was made to ‘de-militarise’ the aircraft and highlight the timeless beauty of R.J. Mitchell’s masterpiece.
Goodwood – with its historic roots as an active WW2 fighter aerodrome – is a fitting meeting place for the worlds of aviation and motoring. And as Christoph Grainger-Herr, the CEO of IWC Schaffhausen addresses the crowd, introducing David Coulthard and the IWC racing 300 SL, his focus quickly turns to the monumental expedition his company is set to sponsor this summer. An expedition dreamed-up, planned, and set in motion by Matt Jones and Steve Brooks, the two co-founders of the Boultbee Flight Academy, the world’s first Spitfire flight school based here within Goodwood’s Hangar 8.