Adventures with G-AKDN - Chapter 11

James, George, Dave and KDN at Downsview for the Chipmunk 60th anniversary.

The airplane felt out of control. It was very pitchy and felt like we had a center of gravity issue I mentioned this to James who was sitting in back. After a short silence he said, “Do you think it has anything to do with the four liters of oil I put in the rear battery compartment?” What! Well ya. I told him to unbuckle and lean as far forward as possible as we flew 150 miles as level as possible and made a straight in landing in Regina.

After reloading the airplane we departed in a much better condition for Winnipeg. Next day we cleared customs into the USA and flew across Wisconsin. We noticed the right fuel tank was draining first while the left tank stayed full. Worried that the left tank may not feed when the right tank was empty we landed and called de Havilland Support (George Neal). George listened to our concern and said, “ Well David, just fly with the ball centered”.

I’ll take a ribbing from a Hall of Fame test pilot any day, and let him and James have their laugh. He did say, seriously, not to worry, that was a common issue and the tanks will feed. We continued into the late evening landing at a remote ex-US airbase in Upper Michigan.

Next day it was clear and we continued into Downsview. It was very exciting to be joining the pattern and flying a low pas down the runway. Circling to land we were greeted by George Neal who asked, “are you here for KDN’s 60 year service?” We answered, “No, KDN has run perfectly the whole trip.” KDN had proven herself as a trusted friend. It was a relief to have her there safe and we appreciated the very warm reception.

The 60th Anniversary weekend was filled with a who’s who of Canadian aviation.

We attended a symposium, focusing on the Chipmunk that included George Neal, Russ Bannock, Stan Miller, Howard Malone and Bill Long. James and I also spoke about Chipmunk ownership, maintenance, and flying.

It was very special to see KDN sitting in the factory looking exactly like she did when she was built. Everyone was very excited and appreciative of the effort James and I had gone to, to be there. We left KDN on loan to the museum to have on display. James and I would return later in the summer to fly her back to Saskatoon, but first we would make a stop at the giant EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh Wisconsin. In the meantime KDN was in good hands tucked into her nest at Downsview.

to be continued...

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