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