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

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