Keeping Spitfires In The Air: Spitfires.com & airspace

Spitfires.com – The Spitfire Academy, founded by Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones, began as a flight training center using two-seat Spitfires. The academy gained recognition for hosting the largest Spitfire gathering and later evolved into Spitfires.com, now offering personalized Spitfire flights and co-founding airspare®, a platform simplifying the purchase of aviation parts and gear.

Rebecca Applegarth  |  13th December 2023
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    Rebecca Applegarth
    Rebecca Applegarth

    Rebecca Applegarth has been brought up around Aviation for as long as she can remember. As a current...

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    Spitfires flying over the sea


    Spitfires.com – The Spitfire Academy, is the brainchild of London-based property developer Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones. It is headquartered at Goodwood Aerodrome on the Goodwood Estate, just outside Chichester, in West Sussex.

    In April of 2009, an opportunity arose to buy a two-seat Spitfire. Having been originally built as a single seat Spitfire, she was converted to the TR-9, the two-seat variant to accommodate a passenger for the purpose of flight training. 

    In 2015, the academy hosted the world’s largest gathering of airworthy Spitfires for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. With 32,000 spectators, including veterans and members of the Royal Family, packing the Goodwood Motor Circuit outfield to witness the event, 35 Spitfires and Hurricanes readied themselves for the largest flight of these aircraft types for over 70 years. 

    2019 was quite a year for the company. Along with a number of sponsors, Steve, Matt, and a team of experts circumnavigated the globe in the most original and airworthy Spitfire Mk IX, aptly named the ‘Silver Spitfire’. G-IRTY, MJ271 flew from Goodwood Aerodrome on the 5th of August in a westerly direction. 74 locations across 30 countries, 22,138 nautical miles and four months later, the team successfully returned to Goodwood on the 5th of December, setting a Guinness World Record for the achievement. 

    In 2020, Boultbee Flight Academy was bought out by co-founder Matt Jones and the business changed its name to Spifires.com – The Spitfire Academy. Spitfires.com is where Tim Granshaw’s Spitfire pilot journey began in April 2013. 

    Having turned up to work around 08:00, Tim’s day begins. During peak flying season, flights can start from around 09:00. To start off the day, Tim checks the weather actuals and forecasts and the NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen), to make sure everything is safe to begin the day’s flights. He also checks the aircraft and pilot documents to ensure everything is up-to-date and current. A vital part of a morning at Spitfires.com is pre-flighting the aircraft, which usually takes around an hour. “Clients will have been sent safety videos to watch prior to their day”, notes Tim. 

    Once the operations team have welcomed them in and kitted them up, Tim introduces himself and goes over each client’s wishes, as each flight is tailormade to their ideal experience. This is to ensure that everyone gets the best out of their flight. These conversations include handling of the aircraft and preferred routes. 

    Spitfires.com offers flights over some of the UK’s prettiest landmarks, from the impressive cliffs of Dover and Beachy Head to the east, and the white cliffs of The Needles on the picturesque Isle of Wight to the west. “During the flight, guests have the opportunity to take control of the aircraft”, Tim adds. This enhances the personal touch to each flight. 

    Flights are divided between multiple pilots each day, allowing them to have some time in between flights to reset, as well as go over essential paperwork that needs to be done. At the end of the day, the aircraft goes back into the hangar ready for the next day. 

    As a result of Tim’s work at Spitfires.com, came airspare®. Outside of flying, he noted that the General Aviation community was struggling with finding specific aircraft parts. The Spitfires.com engineering team could also spend up to two days searching for Spitfire parts. 

    Unable to get this idea out of his head, in January 2020, Tim spent a couple of weeks researching this idea. He then approached Simon Oliver, Spitfires.com’s Head of Communications, and Matt Cayford, Chief Engineer at Spitfires.com, to begin the process of setting up airspare®. “I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that there must be an easier way”, says Tim.

    “ Spitfires.com offers flights over some of the UK’s prettiest landmarks, from the impressive cliffs of Dover and Beachy Head to the east, and the white cliffs of The Needles on the picturesque Isle of Wight to the west. ”  

    Tim Granshaw Chief Flying InstructorStarting off with the warbird world, and then expanding into smaller engineering organisations, Tim noticed that finding parts was a common problem for a lot of areas of aviation. He noticed that there were organisations where parts could be sourced, but not anywhere you could find parts with visible prices, for various products. Engineers will find a part and buy it, so it can be fitted quickly, but there’s no way of knowing if the price you’ve paid is competitive. 

    airspare® was founded as a way of bringing different organisations together to make it as easy as possible for customers to find, and buy parts and pilot gear. airspare® has put together a platform, airspare.com that allows customers to find everything they are looking for in one place. Additionally, airspare.com is a place for organisations to sell their products; Looking to help smaller companies expand, by giving them a platform to share, and advertise their products within the General Aviation community. 

    Having started by selling their own stock, airspare® is an official distributor for American companies such as FlyBoys and PIVOT. Via one of their directors, they have a 10-year relationship with FlyBoys and PIVOT. airspare® is one of the first companies to bring these products, that were primarily designed for military use, to the General Aviation community. As well as Tim Granshaw, Simon Oliver, and Matt Cayford, airspare® is also made up of Andy Durston, and Alex Davies. 

    “We’re open (online) and trading, and we are continually adding to our list of suppliers and their product offerings. We welcome all enquiries from civil, commercial and military aviation sectors” adds director, Simon Oliver.

     More information:www.spitfires.com

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