Adventures with G-AKDN - Chapter 24

Ken Large and Dave with KDN. A changing of the guard.

One last peek at KDN, blurred by tears, and I closed the door. It was hard to walk away. As I travel at close to KDN’s cruise speed on a train back to Finmere I have a few hours to reflect on 14 years of flying her. It’s odd that a machine can have such an impact on so many people all over the world. KDN has earned her place in aviation history with her own story, but it is really the people connected with her that makes her so special to me.

Over the years we have been able to get to know many of these people and spending the last 5 months here in the UK has connected us even more with her past. There are a lot of people who without their encouragement, help and time, we would never been able to operate KDN for the past 14 years. I want to say thank you.


to Phil and Jackie Derry, for your foresight and thinking with your heart. You saved KDN and then had faith in us to carry on caring for her.

to Graham & Betsy Fox and team at Graham Fox Aircraft Engineering, Mathew Fox, Flying Fox Aviation, and our Canadian engineers Doug Tomlinson and Tom Coates. Without these people’s expertise, talent, dedication and friendship, we could never afford to make KDN the aircraft you see today.

to Mark Miller at deHavilland Support for his gentle approach and caring contributions and Deltair for their continued advice and support.

to George Neal, Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame deHavilland Canada test pilot and KDN test pilot. George became a true friend who was always there when we had questions and needed help.

to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum for recognizing KDN and appointing her as Ambassador Aircraft to represent the museum’s world class collection and Canada’s aviation heritage.

to Turweston Airport. For the warm welcome by everyone we met. Chris and staff made our operations easy and were more then helpful. And to Alan at ATSO Aircraft Engineering,with his deep Chipmunk knowledge and friendly “can do “ attitude was always there to help on short notice.

to Stephen Slater and LAA, for their encouragement and interest and support.

to Carol de Solla for her devotion to the Chipmunk and her natural ability for organizing and including KDN in the plans. And to the rest of the Chipmunk fraternity of owners and pilots, who we crossed paths with and made us feel so special.

to Steve Le-Vien for his efforts to celebrate the Chipmunk 70th and his appreciation and welcome for KDN.

to the Gawcott Pub/Pietenpole/Vintage Aircraft Group who adopted us, and made us feel part of the community and at home among friends.

to Royal Aero Club Air Race group who welcomed KDN and us and immediately made us part of the family. Thank you all for your help, patience and support.

to our Finmere Aerodrome based pilots who made us feel welcome and were so helpful. And fellow Chipmunk owner, Tim Orchard, we owe big time, for taking the time and interest to make the Finmere connection.

to Dave Unwin, a diamond geezer, and his beautiful family Liz, Will and George for their friendship, enthusiasm and key role in having KDN recognized for what she is.

to Colin and Penny, part of our UK family, for their continued friendship and support and hospitality.

for the opportunity to rub shoulders with spend time with and even fly with some very prominent personalities, Prince William, Princess Catherine and Prince George, Lord and Lady Suffolk, Baron Michael Woodley, Baron and Lady Boot, Sir Sterling Moss and the Earl of March. DH Test Pilot Desmond Penrose, Veteran Tom Payne.

to the hundreds of great aviation enthusiasts and photographers we met from around the world at the events we attended. Their appreciation and interest in KDN is heart warming.

to all our family and friends who made the effort to visit us and share in our adventure this summer. Kathy and Al, Jenny and Mark, Charlie and Marj, Shane and Tammy, Dennis and Debbie, Richard, Danny, Andy, Doug and Ryan, Dave and family, Colin and Penny. Phil and Jackie, Les and Ann, Bruce, Tom, Carolyn and the boys.

to Vanessa, for having the courage and sense of adventure to trade homes with us for the summer. And to Monique for being here for Abbey. You will always be welcome in our home. We will never forget you.

KDN has had a long and interesting history of connecting people and continues to do so. Here are a couple examples of this:

While attending the Chipmunk 70th Anniversary at Old Warden a small energetic lady named Anne Hughes introduced herself. She informed me she was in the process of managing the restoration of the Beagle Pup prototype G-AVDF. This aircraft is a parallel to KDN, in that it evolved into the Beagle Bulldog, which eventually replaced the Chipmunk as the primary trainer in the UK. We discovered a couple more serendipitous connections. Anne met Ken Large at the event. Ken was in the process of negotiating the purchase of KDN from us. Ken taught Anne to fly many years before! And we learned we both lived at Finmere! Anne had relocated to Finmere village to live in close proximity to Turweston where the Pup is being restored! Anne is a great example of an aviation ambassador. She not only manages the Pup’s restoration but volunteers many hours a week as a researcher/historian, at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and also is heavily involved with youth aviation initiatives and the Vintage Aircraft Assoc. Anne is an example of the quality of people connected to KDN.

I received an email shortly after arriving in the UK. Glen Fricker wrote to ask if he could come see KDN. His Dad was an aviation journalist in the1950’s and had flown KDN on many occasions. Glen arrived at Finmere with his Dad’s logbook and showed me where his Dad and Mom had flown together in KDN. According to the date, Glen was also on board – yet unborn! A few months later the logbook showed his Mom and Dad flying again in KDN with +1. That was Glen at age 3 months flying on his Mom’s lap! Glen went on to a career in aviation and is currently 737 Captain and also flies the deHaviland Rapide, Harvard and Hurricane at Duxford. After flying together in KDN, he can now add his name again in KDN ‘s logbook, over 50 years later. Pretty special.

While researching KDN’s history, I wished that I could have met Pat Fillingham. Pat did the original test flights on the Chipmunk in Downsview. Flying together, Pat and his wife Sonja won the 1953 Kings Cup Air race and had a long term, close connection to KDN. I had a photo of them as a young couple accepting the trophy. Their flying together reminded me of Karen’s and my relationship with KDN. Flying as a team, sharing the adventure. At the Chipmunk 70th anniversary Carol introduced us to Sonja! What a thrill it was to meet her. I was even able to go flying with her in KDN. We have been able to attend a couple other events together over the summer and had time to get to know each other and form a great friendship. It is extraordinary how KDN has made these kind of connections possible.

Karen and I with our partner James and family Carolyn, Charles and William have been so lucky to be part of KDN’s history. We did our best by her and she treated us well in return, creating opportunities that we could never dream possible. It has been a privilege and I am humbled to have been a part of it. Ken will continue to treat her right and with Graham’s help she will fly into the next decade and continue to make connections while proudly representing Canada’s rich aerospace heritage.

Thank you KDN. Until we meet again.


The end

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