Rich Goodwin is a former RAF Tornado GR.1 pilot who flew 21 operations in the first Gulf War.
Currently an airline pilot, he is also now flying G-EWIZ both on the air show calendar and for competition aerobatics. The aircraft is a Pitts Special S.2S that has been modified so extensively over the past few years that it is truly one of a kind in the UK — fulfilling Rich’s lifelong dream of flying a modified biplane on the UK circuit. He recently spoke to GARETH STRINGER about his aviation career
What is your first aviation memory?
Watching 74 Sqn Lightnings land at RAF Tengah in Singapore during 1967 and greeting the thirsty pilots with Tiger beer. Important training for a five year old!
When was your first flight?
Learning to fly gliders with the legendary Andy Gough at RAF Bicester in 1977.
What prompted learning to fly?
I was passionate about building and flying model aircraft at school -plenty of repairing too! I was very lucky to be surrounded by the RAF and aviation at home. It seemed a natural way to go.
When was your first solo?
At 16 in a glider at RAF Bicester. I was fascinated by the way Andy could make the Blanik disappear into the quarry, only to resurface and land by the old bus. Aged 17 at Leicester — solo in a C152. Aged 18 — hang glider solo. Aged 23 — solo in a jet. Aged 43 — solo in a biplane, my passion at the moment!
Who has been the biggest influence on your aviation career?
I would have to say my father, Ken Goodwin, who was well known for his Hunter and Lightning aerobatic displays in the 1960s and 1970s.
I have heard some amazing comments on his displays, famous for the negative «G» in the Hunter and square turns on the ‘burner in the Lightning.
What do you see as your best achievement in aviation?
I was very proud to have served in the RAF and flown the Tornado GR.1.
I found it all very challenging and met some inspiring people on the way.
I am very grateful to the RAF for the start it gave me in my aviation career.
Do you hold any records?
No official records, but I hope to be the first to develop the Muscle Biplane Display for air shows in UK and Europe. It is very popular in the USA, but challenging to achieve with all the engineering requirements here. I am really enjoying the task of developing the aircraft and its capabilities.
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
Maybe a pipe dream for a biplane, but I would love to display my modified aircraft at RIAT when I finish building the new wings for it.
More hard work building them this winter…
Can you think of a time in the cockpit when you have looked out and thought, this is IT, this IS aviation?
There are of course many. My first solo in the Hawk flying around Anglesey. Flying a B757 around the world with 85 VIPs and visiting obscure destinations such as Easter Island, Agra and Ulaanbaatar! Displaying my Muscle Biplane at RAF Cosford earlier this year.
What has been your worst time in the cockpit?
I think all pilots enjoy and rise to a challenge. Somehow those worst moments can turn into the most rewarding memories. In January 1991 we were flying at night behind the refuelling tanker in a Tornado GR.1. In and out of cloud, Mach buffet because of the load we were carrying and the refuelling hose was whipping up and down. No fuel and the mission would be cancelled. By far the hardest flying I have ever done — I could feel the beads of sweat.
What is your favourite aeroplane?
Then — «The Fin», the Tornado; 1,000hr is a lot of low-level. Now — the challenge of the Muscle Biplane and its new manoeuvers.
What is your least favourite aeroplane?
I have a love/hate relationship with the Cozy I have been building for the last 15 years! It’s all plans-built and now at the sanding fibreglass stage.
I love the building and am saving it as a retirement project while I work on the new wings for the Modified Pitts.
Hypothetically, if you could fly one aeroplane from history, what would that be?
The power, noise and presence of the English Electric Lightning make it iconic. The biplane I am developing is the cheaper version!