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Air racing

Air Racing: Kings Cup 2005


Shobdon Airfield, Herefordshire, 21st August 2005

Roger Hayes and Charles Hill with the King's Cup 2005It was a beautiful morning, blue skies and a light westerly wind, as the race pilots strolled thoughtfully to their aeroplanes glistening in the sun at Shobdon Airfield for the King's Cup Air Race.

It was my 21st year of air racing and my twentieth entry for this race. For me this was also the big one. Having been successful three times before, a fourth win would make it a record and so I could not help wondering if it might just happen. Having come fourth in the previous day's race was I in with a chance?

At 1205hrs I ran up the engine to full power. My Beagle Pup 150 aircraft G-TSKY - "Race 2" was straining on the brakes, the adrenaline was running, the flag was down and we were off for six laps to the finish line.

My navigator Charles Hill, who I had just taught to fly, was carefully timing the two lead aircraft ahead of us. They were handicapped to be in that position but to win we would have to pass them both and stop the faster aircraft from catching us.

On reaching the last two laps, racing over the ground at 500ft, we started "chewing" at the tails of the Grumman AA1B and a Rallye 150 in front. The turns were going very well and the airspeed was well up the dial but could we get them? Each lap was over 20 miles long and had four turning points. The Grumman AA1B was gaining on the Rallye but by the start of the final lap we were almost there. We chased the Grumman around the airfield turn, passing it on the roll out, now we were chasing the Rallye 150 along the back straight. We took him just before the turn, but where were the others? Amongst the pack were two Vans RV-6's and a Baron storming along, at 200mph these were a real threat!

Apart from the engine noise there was silence in the cockpit, neither of us could speak, it was getting very tense. We made the final turn, still no fast ships - where were they?

Sighting the judges we dived for the flag, the airspeed accelerated to almost 150 mph and wow we had done it! The rest of the field started to flash by but we had got there first! In fact all racing aircraft passed over the line within 20 seconds of each other, the tightest finish I have ever known.

But we made it, our fourth King's Cup win with a race speed of 132.39mph. Now for the Champagne!

Roger Hayes Race Pilot - Skysport UK

Additional Facts

Race organisers: The Royal Aero Club - Records Racing & Rally Association
Race title: The Kings Cup Challenge Trophy first awarded by King George V
Pilot: Roger Hayes Chief Flying Instructor of Skysport UK at Kemble & North Weald Airfields
Navigator: Charles Hill Private Pilot
Aircraft: Beagle Pup 150Hp "Race 2" registration G-TSKY top speed 136mph
Race speed: ...from a standing start: 132.39 mph