Three years ago, of the 12 or so competitors who staggered into the air on the first Norfolk air Race, only three completed the course. This year all but one of the 15 entries zoomed home on their slick streamlined aircraft, demonstrating the sport’s accelerating technology and pilot skills. All flew trikes-perhaps pointing the way to future trends?
The organizers had somehow managed to secure a sacred piece of land on the outskirts of Norwich as competition headquarters the Royal showground. When I say sacred I mean used-twice-a-year and ‘trespassers will be shot’ type of ground. Must have been bribery involved somewhere! A ‘town and country week-end’ and in full swing at the same time and this ensured thousands of spectators watching the skills of these ‘powered hang gliders’. I am sure the event proved a good PR exercise.
Perfect weather blessed the organizers, who were aided by marshal-to-base telephones (courtesy of Securicor) and computer-controlled scoring. No problem could prevent the smooth running of this competition although at times the gremlins tried very hard.
I watched the last competitor disappear into the distance before deciding to stroll around the ‘town and country’ event, content that I had plenty of time before the first pilot was due home.
After a while I was surprised to see a bright coloured flash zoom into land and sprinted to see who was first. Shock! There on the landing field were nine trikes, nine trikes! I had missed all the winners! Not surprising perhaps, In view of the incredible fast times for the approximately 60 mile (97km) triangular course.
The results were announced later in the afternoon with first honours going to Geoff Ball and John Hudson. They received a ‘bootiful’ trophy which will be engraved alongside previous winners. What prestige! They also received an engraved plate to keep, not to mention a £50 cash prize.
They flew dual on a Puma Mk2 zipping round in only 1hr 25mins. Second and third places received engraved plates with Keith Dickenson piping Bob Calvert to the post by just one minute. Both were flying very flash 330cc Pumas. Will Reynolds earned the now traditional frozen chicken for being the slowest to complete the course. Plenty of free-flying followed with some dual machines giving marshals an opportunity to get their feet off the ground. All who took part had a good time which is really what it is all about.
Past criticism of the event, completely unjust, ensure the number of entrants were lower than the organizers would have liked, but any skeptics I am sure need only to ask the pilots, or other people who matter, for their views on the event.
Preparations for next year’s race have already started with a promise of a much tougher course.
The way things are going, it will need to be.
Finally a certain gentleman who was to take photographs to accompany this article was busy organizing trikes, poses, trophies etc and happily snapping away like David bailey all day long. He later learned he had forgotten to load the film.
Results –1982 Norfolk Air race
15 Entries, 12 starters, 11 finishers.
1 Geoff Ball / John Hudson (PumaMk2)
2 Keith Dickenson (Puma single seat)
3 Bob Calvert (Puma single seat)
4 Graham Hobson / Phil Wyles (Puma Mk2)
5 Mike Hurley (Tripacer 330 / Flexiform Striker)
Copyright Mike Lake 1982 All Rights Reserved