A lot of Chi­nese fam­i­lies went home that day with very happy mem­o­ries of their visit


mak­ing the run­way if the en­gine stops!

On Satur­day, the open­ing cer­e­mony for the air­show was ar­ranged for 10 a.m. and we were duly ush­ered from our nice dry hangar to take our seats at the front of a block of hun­dreds of soak­ing wet alu­minium chairs which faced the stage con­tain­ing the dig­ni­taries and a gi­ant TV screen be­hind it. Each chair had a packed plas­tic rain mac placed on its seat, to be ef­fi­ciently re­moved, seat wiped dry, then re­placed, by an army of vol­un­teer helpers. Af­ter many speeches and much clap­ping of hands and flut­ter­ing of red flags we were al­lowed to re­turn to the sanc­tity of our For­mula 1 hangar to con­tem­plate what the weather might al­low for the re­main­der of the day. The de­ci­sion was made that we wouldn’t race but, in­stead, the hangar would be opened to the pub­lic so they could view the diminu­tive race air­craft and chat with the pi­lots and me­chan­ics. And come in they did−thou­sands of them!

The rest of the day was spent hav­ing photos taken with the chil­dren, sign­ing their race sheets, and hav­ing self­ies with the phone-wield­ing pop­u­la­tion of Wuhan. I think that, de­spite the dread­ful weather, a lot of Chi­nese fam­i­lies went home that day with very happy mem­o­ries of their visit to the Air Race1 China Cup hangar.

Sun­day, the fi­nal day of the event, saw an im­prove­ment in the weather and the fore­cast was for a fur­ther im­prove­ment in the af­ter­noon. It was de­cided that the Gold rac­ers would fly a heat race first as they hadn’t raced all week, fol­lowed by the Sil­ver fi­nal, then the Gold fi­nal to close the show. There wasn’t any­thing I could do to make Ker­mit any faster in the air to im­prove my fi­nal race-stand­ing, but I thought if I could get a good start and beat the two ahead of me into the air then I might stand a chance of get­ting to the first py­lon ahead of them. There was then a slim chance that I could hold this

po­si­tion through­out the race by fly­ing a con­sis­tent and smooth line. Dave was be­hind me at brief­ing and I whis­pered to him to leave and de­fuel Ker­mit down to the al­lowed min­i­mum of five gal­lons. By the time brief­ing had fin­ished (they never were very brief), Dave had al­ready drained a lot of the ex­cess fuel, giv­ing us a weight sav­ing, al­low­ing faster ac­cel­er­a­tion at the start. I also asked him to check the tyre pres­sures as a soft tyre can re­ally slow you down off the start line.

To add a lit­tle lo­cal flavour, the rac­ers were towed in front of the spec­ta­tors on their way to the run­way by tuk tuk. Some were more road­wor­thy than oth­ers, and some had drivers who thought they could put on a bet­ter race than us! Po­si­tioned on the sec­ond row of the grid with two rac­ers ahead, I re­con­sid­ered my start strat­egy. With a thirty-me­tre-wide run­way and two rac­ers spaced-out line abreast ahead, I should be able to squeeze through the gap as I knew that Ker­mit should out­ac­cel­er­ate them with its lighter fuel load, in­creased tyre pres­sures and finer pitch sports pro­pel­ler. How­ever, I felt that the risks were too high for a non-emer­gency sit­u­a­tion and didn’t want to run the risk of clip­ping the wing of an­other racer if he un­wit­tingly

No - not a party con­fer­ence but the stage set for the air­show open­ing cer­e­mony

Trevor joins the other teams in al­low­ing lo­cal chil­dren some hands-on time with the air­craft

The small but en­thu­si­as­tic crowd braves the rain: most Chi­nese would watch the event on TV

TOP: pow­ered by the reg­u­la­tion O-200, the Gold rac­ers have been ex­ten­sively de­vel­oped for greater speed

ABOVE: throt­tles to the fire­wall for the Sil­ver fi­nal, Ker­mit trail­ing

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