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Eyes to the skies

Get a retro thrill for you or a loved one with a whirl in this special aircraft at the Goodwood estate.

You may have a vintage dress in your wardrobe or the odd antique around your home but how about ramping up the retro experience and flying an open cockpit biplane from the 1940s?

Goodwood estate, just across the border in West Sussex, is famous for its annual vintage motor racing event Revival and the wonderful 40s to 60s fashions you’ll have donned if you’ve been along.

Stearman G-CCXB

Now, this gorgeous Boeing Stearman has just arrived at Goodwood Flying School and you can actually take her for a whirl and even try out some airborne acrobatics… under expert supervision of course!

Despite its design being almost obsolete at the time, Stearmans were used extensively during the Second World War to train rookie pilots in the US Air Force and Navy because their simple, rugged construction made them straightforward to fly and maintain.

Stearman G-CCXB

Goodwood’s Stearman, G-CCXB was delivered new in 1943 to the US Navy and was used for training in Indiana and Iowa. It was imported into the UK in 2004 and up to now has been used for wing walking.

It joins the other vintage and modern aircraft you can take on flying experiences from Goodwood’s aerodrome on a range of different priced packages.

There’s a 1943 Harvard, which was used as a training aircraft for WWII spitfire pilots; the Piper Super Cub, which, like the Stearman, has stick and rudder controls, and the ultra-modern Cessna which you can train on if you want to get a pilot’s licence today.

1943 Harvard – once used to train spitfire pilots

If you haven’t a yen to be a flying ace yourself, the once-in-a-lifetime experience would make a brilliant gift for someone for Christmas or a big birthday or anniversary. You can even watch their big moment then retire to the cafe in a control tower on the edge of the airfield.

The modern Cessna

On the Stearman Aviation Experience (£449) you (or a lucky loved one) get to spend 40 minutes in the aircraft, including a half-hour flight over the fabulous Sussex coastline and countryside. The pre-flight briefing includes information on the history of the aircraft, as well as informal tuition on the basics of flying a biplane and the chance to plan a personalised route.

To really make a special day of it, upgrade to the Stearman Fly & Dine experience (£549) that will give you 50 minutes in the aircraft, with a flight time of 40 minutes followed by a champagne lunch for two at Goodwood’s exclusive members only clubhouse, The Kennels.

Chocks away!

Words: Debbie Ward

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