Aviation Ambassador

Adventures with G-AKDN - Chapter 17

Diving for the race finish line Karen and I are being passed by a gaggle of aircraft only meters away that appear to be going twice as fast as us. But this is Royal Aero Club handicap air racing and the fastest airplane may not be the winner. KDN last air raced in the early fifties and won the Kings Cup over some much faster aircraft. If only I could fly as well as deHavilland test pilot Pat Fillingham, and if only Karen could navigate as well as Pat’s wife Sonja. We’re just thrilled to be a part of it all.

KDN over the airfield turn featured on the cover of the Royal Aero Club publication.

A week after the 70th anniversary event at Old Warden we were off to participate in our first air race. We had asked and been assigned race number 54. This was a good omen, since KDN was number 54 when she won many races including the Kings Cup. We arrived at a quirky little aerodrome called Popham. Two grass runways and a funky set of buildings. The organisers and competitors warmly greeted us. All of them were very happy to see vintage air racer KDN arriving with her numbers on and ready to race again. We weren’t quite so ready as we needed to complete an evaluation flight to confirm we could fly 60 degree banked turns without gaining or losing any altitude as well as fly an octagon pattern at our race power setting to establish our handicap speed. Then I needed to complete my race application and was issued my FIA Air Racing Pilot Licence. Wow, was I proud to receive that. Looked just like the one Pat Fillingham had.

My FIA Competitors Licence. " Yes officer, I do have a licence to speed"

A very thoughtful award presented to Karen and me for our efforts, from a very nice group of people.

We completed two races over the weekend and were happy to lead for most of the first race and lead the whole second race. But between exceeding our handicap speed, cutting a few corners and losing count of what lap we were on and flying an extra one, the finish didn’t work out too well. Pretty good effort for beginners and we couldn’t expect more. We learned a lot, met a whole bunch of great people and most important flew safe and had an absolute blast.

Flying with Superwoman backseat driving might be considered cheating.

We are now ready enter the Kings Cup. If we qualify, it will be special to have KDN in the air again over the UK, 63 years after first winning the Kings Cup. Fingers crossed for clear skies and fair winds.

to be continued...

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