At the end of the day in which we spoke, Rob had flown Goodwood’s Cessna, Harvard and Piper Supercub, proving that his job is all about variety.
This year will be the 10th Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Exhibition and Rob has been pivotal in its creation and development. It stands as one of the highlights of his year, and he is keen to point out that it is unique. “To be able to share vintage aviation with the public is just fantastic. It is the only place that I know of where people can come and get right up close to live aircraft,” he says.
Goodwood recognises the Aerodrome as a really important part of the organisation. “There is a core team who are passionate about making the business work. We all feed off each other and we’re driven by a passion for aviation – I’m surrounded by people who want to be around aeroplanes for the rights reasons,” he says. But in 30 years of the same job, Rob has also seen many people come and go. “I have worked with a lot of different chief engineers, general managers, directors and more – some of them I miss greatly, some of them I don’t miss so much!” he laughs.
There has also been a number of highlights – too many to list – but Rob counts two very special occasions as ones he will never forget. “To see Ray Hanna fly along the start line at the first ever Revival, where he piloted the Spitfire lower than the grandstands, is up there with the best moments of my time here. And having Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, judge at the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Exhibition – that was pretty cool!” he says.
But for Rob, his motivation is the future, not the past. He says; “One of the great things is not knowing what is around the corner. Where are we going to go from here? Are we going to end up with electric trainers that are carbon neutral? Are we going to have more gliders? Will we get more kids involved? There is such a lot still to be done and with aviation it’s very humbling as there is always a huge amount to learn.
“The history here is indelible and I’m proud of that, but I am as excited about the future. My 30 years has gone in a blink and the minute I have my spirit for what I do dampened is the minute to go and do something else. But at the moment there are endless possibilities here and every day is like a new day.”
Rob Wildeboer has achieved a lot in his 30 years at Goodwood Aerodrome, but the question is; what can he achieve in the next 30? The sky is very much the limit.