In September 2011 we attended the Goodwood Revival festival which is simply a magical step back in time and see the sights and hear the sounds of motor sport in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. 2011 also featured a fleet of spitfires to mark the celebration of a 75 year relationship between the airfield and the spitfires.
An amazing machine!
Any pilot will look at the Supermarine S6B in the static display at the Revival meeting this year and marvel at the supreme piloting skills of the men who flew these Schneider Trophy seaplanes, with tiny cockpits and long noses wrapped around huge Rolls-Royce R V12 engines. There can be practically no view out the front for landing and by the looks of it not much of one out of the sides of the cockpit.
Only two Supermarine S6 racing seaplanes have survived: the aircraft at Goodwood, which usually resides at the Solent Sky Aviation Museum in Southampton, and another that is on display in London’s Science Museum.
It is right that the former should live in Southampton because the city and surrounding area was at the forefront of British aviation in the first half of the 20th century.
At Eastleigh airfield (now Southampton Airport) on March 5 1936, Supermarine test pilot Joseph “Mutt” Summers took off in the late afternoon in a prototype. The flight lasted about eight minutes and when Summers stepped out of the aircraft he told the expectant engineers and ground crew to “not change a thing”. The mighty Spitfire was born.
Four years later, what is now the Revival racing circuit became home to RAF Westhampnett, base for 602 squadron operating Spitfires in the Battle of Britain. It also acted as an emergency landing ground and satellite airfield for nearby RAF Tangmere.