Ever wondered who is in the air, flying high and racing against the steam locomotives in Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest’s Great Train Race? Well wonder no more, because we were lucky enough to have a chat to the man behind the controls, Phil Unicomb.
With a grin from ear to ear, the 2019 Tiger Moth Pilot, Phil Unicomb greets his visitors to Royal Newcastle Aero Club (RNAC) HQ in Rutherford with passion and enthusiasm, and it’s instantly apparent that he adores his job.
A seasoned pilot, Phil has been heavily involved with RNAC since 1978 where he is now the Chief Flying Instructor. When the idea of flying a Tiger Moth in the Great Train Race at Steamfest was presented to Phil many years ago, he was immediately on board.
‘Through my involvement with old aeroplanes and being a real steam enthusiast, the two went together, so that’s why I really like to do it’.
‘I’m a real Steamhead, I love steam!’
In 2018 the Tiger Moth which was to be flown by fellow pilot Charlotte Zeederberg was unable to race due to high winds, so Phil is hoping for fair weather this year.
When asked if he thought he could edge out the locos to fly over the finish line in 1st place, Phil said that the weather plays an important part in the race.
‘If we get the moderate Westerly, the locomotives have the advantage because I’m pushing into the wind,’ he said.
The Great Train Race will take place on Sunday 14 April as Phil and the Tiger Moth go head to head with locomotives 3265 and 3526.
A number of unique journeys on locomotives 3265 and 3526 will be available across the Steamfest weekend, in addition to journeys on the ever popular Tin Hare and Red Rattler diesels.
There are a limited number of seats still available on the Great Train Race. To purchase tickets on the Great Train Race and all Steamfest journeys click here.