LONDON-SYDNEY AIR RACE – 2001
The following photos were taken on March 3, 2007 at the
Buckeye Airport which is home to the Grumman Albatross
Elton Dyal flew us out to see the plane
felt I was the king of the world when my machine left the runway at Bigin
Hill," says Russel L Wilson,
a 71-year-old American. He is in one of the oldest planes in the race, a 1948 Grumman Albatross amphibian.
McClung, Capt., USN (Ret) has had a great deal of experience flying off
aircraft carriers with more than 1000 landings (traps) and in excess of 11,000
flying hours. He told us about his
participation in this fabulous adventure at our meeting on February 21st Click on
Biography of Captain McClung.
For more details on this adventure, see the story at the end of the photos.
LONDON SYDNEY AIR RACE
The Air Race preparation on 10/03/2001 and start from Biggin Hill on Sunday 11/3/2001 went very well indeed despite poor weather conditions and we are delighted to report that all competitors arrived safely at their first stop in Cannes on11/3/2001. Stage 2 to Kerkira (Corfu) started early on the Monday 12/3/2001.
The London - Sydney Air Race was organised to celebrate the centenary of the federation of Australia and some 38 competitors from all over the world took part in the 28 day, 14,000 mile flight along the old Kangaroo Route from London - Sydney. As one of Britain's most historic airfields and a centre of aviation training and endeavour, we were a natural choice for the race start point and were proud to be associated with this memorable event - only the fourth race of its kind in the last century.
Several hundred enthusiasts came to Biggin Hill over the weekend to meet the crews, view the aircraft and generally join in the spirit of things.
On Saturday morning, the Rev. Chris Kitchener of St Marks Church in Biggin Hill led the Blessing of The Fleet, a moving ceremony listened to avidly by spectators, competitors, their friends and family, race organisers and airport officials alike. The well chosen words from Psalm 139 struck a chord and then a prayer was said for the safety of all involved.
After that, the race competitors joined in a ceremonial taxi-parade out of the starting enclosure and past the Terminal Building, proudly waving and many bearing their national flags.
Then on a brisk and misty Sunday morning, all prepared for the "big off" and after initial fears that the weather would hold proceedings up, the race was flagged off by Australian High Commissioner Michael L'Estrange just 3 mins late at 0803 to cheers by the gathered crowd. Starting with the Grumman Albatross seaplane, the aircraft began their procession to the runway and flew up into the clouds bound for Cannes. It was an unforgettable weekend.