Adventures with G-AKDN - Chapter 1

Magazine cover with Tiger Moth and the new Chipmunk

We are at full throttle, in a left hand 60 degree, 2 G banked turn, at 500 feet over the lush English countryside. I am focused on 2 airplanes only meters ahead of me. I feel their wake turbulence nibbling at my controls. Out of the corner of my eye is a purple flash. Another aircraft is passing us on the outside of the turn, and when I look right to see him, I am looking almost straight up into the early afternoon sun. The heat from which, has nothing to do with the sweat I have worked up. An exciting few seconds that repeats itself over the course of this 30 turn, 100 mile air race. How did my wife Karen and I end up in the middle of an Air Race in England, flying a vintage Canadian aircraft?

Growing up on the Canadian prairies and having a dad who spent time flying in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during WWII, I was addicted to airplanes at an early age. With a major RCAF base nearby my home in Regina Saskatchewan, the sky was always full of yellow trainers and silver jets. It was the “nifty fifties” of aviation. Many WWII aircraft were still being used and many new designs were being developed. I could tell what kind of aircraft was flying overhead, by just listening to the sound of their engine. Dad would take us kids out to the airport whenever something unique or different landed. I built many models from balsa wood and plastic. My favorite were, the WWI Sopwith Camel and Albatros, and WWII Spitfire.

But there was one airplane that caught my eye every time one floated by, or a large formation of them rumbled through our big Saskatchewan sky. It was a small, slim design with a bubble canopy and bright yellow paint. Dad told me it was the new trainer that replaced the Tiger Moth he had trained in. It was the deHavilland Chipmunk. I even liked the name. It seemed to be something a young boy could dream of actually flying.

to be continued….

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