Richard Goode is one of the better known individuals on the UK aircraft scene. Although he trained as a lawyer and worked for some 25 years as a corporate “headhunter”, his real love has always been aviation. Having learned to fly in 1970 he quickly became involved in aerobatics, initially with a Chipmunk before moving on to a Stampe, which in turn gave way to a Pitts Special.
With the latter aircraft he competed in his first World Championship in 1978, at the same time beginning a totally separate career as an air-show display pilot. He competed in the British Aerobatic Team until 1984, his best placing being 16th in the world in 1980.
Ever since competing against the Yak-50s he spent much of his time working out how to acquire such a fantastic and exotic aircraft – which at that stage, at the height of the Cold War, was a totally unattainable dream.
However, he is not a man to be deterred lightly, and pursued the Russians directly, both through the Russian trade officials in London, but also directly with Yakovlev and other organisations in Russia. However, the break came when East Germany decided to sell six of its Yak-50s, of which Richard bought four, two of which were kept to operate as the ‘Vladivar’ aerobatic team and two were sold on to the USA.
This involvement in Russian aircraft led to a direct approach from Sukhoi, who in 1990 were beginning full-scale production of the new SU-26M. Richard bought the first one delivered to Europe and from that became significantly the world’s largest dealer in Sukhoi sport aircraft.
Richard suffered a major accident in 1984 when, doing an air display in a modified Laser aircraft, most of one wing detached, resulting in 4 months being spent in one hospital bed! Since then the pressures of business, at that stage both consulting and aviation, bought his competition flying to an end. However, he continued to operate an extremely successful air display team, which at its peak did no less than 124 air displays in one year, operating two Extra 300 aircraft and one Sukhoi.
By 1997 it became clear that the size of the aviation business needed Richard’s full attention, and the organisation’s name was changed from Richard Goode Aerobatic Displays to purely Richard Goode Aerobatics, signifying the move into aircraft sales, maintenance etc.
They were the first organisation to import privately owned Russian aircraft into the West, starting with the two Yak-50 aircraft some 43 years ago and then, with a Russian partner, they put the Yak 18 T back into production at the Smolensk factory; with an American partner they instituted the production of new Yak 3 and 9 fighters in Orenberg; and worked closely with Vedenyeev developing more powerful versions of the M 14 engine.
The business has now changed direction, and over the last 16 years has been totally devoted to supporting the very fine radial engines of Russian design. This includes the original AI 14; the subsequent M 14 P and the Chinese HS-6 Housai engine. All this work is done in partnership with Aerometal, based near Budapest in Hungary for whom RGA handle all commercial aspects of their joint business. The business is undoubtedly the world leader in these Eastern aircraft, having sold over 450 aircraft and some 400 engines since its inception. A lot more detail of this work is elsewhere on this website.
Living the Goode Life at Full Throttle
Richard Goode has published his biography. This is an extraordinary story, beginning with a bare-foot colonial childhood, and indeed not speaking English until he was four, yet ending up at Cambridge, ultimately dealing at the highest levels of the Russian aviation industry. Richard Goode’s life has been a fascinating series of activities, both social and business, dealing with an incredible range of people from the notorious Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, to whom he was selling banknotes (legally) to a car dealer who was embroiled in the Brinks-Mat gold robbery (illegally); dealing with Russian spies at the behest of MI5; international corporate headhunting and aerobatics at the highest levels. And all this with a huge zest for living life to the full. Read more and how to buy the book.