By Kelly Wickham
Pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones have made aviation history after completing the first ever round-the-world flight in a Spitfire.
The two pilots landed just in time for Christmas to a rapturous welcome at Goodwood last Thursday – exactly four months after they set off on their epic expedition.
Main partner and official timekeeper of the expedition, IWC Schaffhausen wanted to celebrate the crew’s phenomenal achievement and arranged an intimate homecoming party at the airfield.
Friends and family of the pilots, IWC management, and the entire support crew were all in attendance as the Spitfire landed.
IWC brand ambassador David Coulthard also put in an appearance to welcome the daring duo back to the UK.
“It’s so wonderful to be back on home soil,” said Boultbee Brooks, co-founder of the Boultbee Flight Academy.
“It’s been an incredible adventure and such a privilege to share our stunning Silver Spitfire with the rest of the world. Of course, there have been challenges along the way, but at every stop, we have received such incredible support from people on the ground. Everyone has greeted us and our aircraft with open arms.”
On its route around the world, the record-breaking flight covered a total of almost 43,000 kilometres and visited over 20 countries.
After leaving Goodwood back in August, the 76 year-old restored aircraft journeyed across the icy expanse of Greenland, glided over the majesty of New York, before crossing the United States to reach Las Vegas and the California sun.
From there, the Spitfire flew north to Canada and Alaska, before heading westward into Russia. In Japan, the team had to dodge a typhoon before slowly making their way across Asia, from the humidity of Myanmar to the vibrant colours of India.
After a brief rest in Abu Dhabi, the pilots made their way home to Europe, visiting Italy and the Netherlands, before finally landing back in the UK.
After taxiing from the Goodwood runway, the Spitfire pulled up in front of a hangar where it was greeted by a sea of smiling faces and congratulatory banners, all celebrating the historic feat.
“What a welcome!” said chief pilot Jones.
“After such a whirlwind of a trip, it feels quite surreal to be back at Goodwood with our mission accomplished.”