Former RAF pilot’s superb Spitfire flight at Goodwood

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It is an academy which allows the next generation of pilots to spread their wings and follow their dreams of taking to the sky.

But for former RAF pilot Eric Carter, his trip to the Boultbee Flight Academy at Goodwood was all about re-living the special memories of flying in a spitfire. The 91-year-old glided into Goodwood Aerodrome from Duxford with a smile on his face.

“It was absolutely superb, there are no real words to describe it,” Mr Carter said.

“It was more than 60 years ago since I last flew a spitfire, when I left the RAF. I have had so many memories in them, some good, some very bad.”

Selsey spitfire engineer Joe Roddis, who aided famous Wing Commander Bob Doe, was also there to marvel at the spitfire landing and to greet Mr Carter. There are only 35 remaining spitfires out of the more than 21,000 built and only six two-seaters like the one Mr Carter flew in.

Earlier this year while on a visit to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Mr Carter was told he could not sit in the spitfire they have at the museum because it was ‘too dangerous’.

He inspected the spitfire up close but was told he could not sit in a stationary spitfire because of health and safety concerns.

Mr Carter is the last surviving member of Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect Murmansk, the port in northern Russia that was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets. His trip to Goodwood was set up by the Boultbee Flight Academy, which recently relocated to the Goodwood Aerodrome for the 2012 flying season.

A spokesman said: “A spitfire relief landing airfield known as RAF Westhampnett during WW2, Goodwood could not be a better location. It beautifully blends history with proximity to the English Channel, has multidirectional grass runways for everyday operations, and all in a setting dictated by the Goodwood Estate that remains in keeping with the 1940s era.”

With some of the finest military, ex-military and civilian instructors in the world teaching at the academy, students trace the training footsteps of many RAF pilots by flying first a Tiger Moth or Chipmunk, then progressing to a Harvard and finally a fully restored two seat Vickers Supermarine Spitfire TR-9.

To find out about courses at the academy, visit www.boultbeeflightacademy.co.uk.