The green flag dropped and... I quickly closed up on the front row racers
veered across the runway by a few feet during the takeoff roll.
With five minutes to the race start remaining, I started the O-200 to warm it up before committing it to full revs when the green flag dropped. It was the usual hazy day, with dampness in the air, and a temperature of about 10°C. Being fortunate to be equipped with carb heat, I selected it on until after bringing the engine up to full power, with ten seconds to go.
The green flag dropped and I already knew I had made a good start as I quickly closed up on the front row racers. The Cassutt in front of me, on my side of the runway, didn’t appear to be making a very good start and I was closing on both of them rapidly, with the uncertainty in my mind whether I could safely get between the two of them. Reducing the power a little seemed the only safe option but still his tail came ever closer to my propeller so I had to cut the throttle and consider aborting. Just as I was doing this, he seemed to lurch away allowing me to increase the power again and continue the takeoff. Trapped on the inside line I followed him into the air and once again found myself rapidly closing on him and had to throttle back shortly after takeoff until he accelerated away again. By this time, I had lost any advantage that I might have gained in the early stages of the race and had to be content with just flying the course as well as I could. The visibility was significantly better than previous days, allowing for a safe race and recovery to the runway but it would appear that carburettor icing played a big part in the mixed fortunes of several racers.
After the Gold race, the Air Race 1 China Cup trophies were presented on the rostrum outside the hangar, with none other than LAA CEO Steve Slater announcing the winners. Achieving third place in the Silver race won me a rather large and suitably inscribed bronze trophy. (So large, in fact, that I thought British Airways might charge me freight to take it back to Heathrow so it will eventually find its way home in the container with Kermit.)
Following the ceremonies at the airport, the trophies were taken away from us to be represented by the event dignitaries at the official gala dinner held at our hotel that evening. As well as receiving the trophies for a second time, here the pilots were also presented with very special cakes of organic Yunnan tea. After an evening of speeches, dancing girls, presentations and a sixteen course Chinese dinner, the drinks flowed freely until the early hours, with the knowledge that there would be no breathalysers in the morning.
This is probably a good opportunity to thank Dave for all his hard work, and also to apologise for not quite making the early bus to the airfield on that Monday morning to help him get
Kermit ready for the container. And to thank Terry for the loan of the aircraft, leaving him without an aeroplane to fly for three months.
Now where’s that china cup, it’s time to put the kettle on!
BELOW: Trevor made it to the podium, collecting a ‘rather large’ bronze trophy for his effort