THE KING’S CUP RACE
A BLUE8IR13 IV.” WINS AT 117 M.P.H.
ON Saturday last, the 25th July, the tenth King’s Cup Air Race took place with fortyone competitors figuring in the entry list. Under the revised rules which had been put into force by the Racing Committee of the Royal Aero Club only bona-fide private owners were allowed to enter and only bonafide amateur pilots were allowed to participate in the race, so that new types, and high powered and ultra
fast machines which would have been entered by aircraft firms in the ordinary course of events, were entirely absent. This was foreseen several months ago when the regulations were first made public, and much adverse criticism arose.
It so happened, however, that while the race was a 100 per cent. light ‘plane affair, and one in which no very exciting high speeds were set up, there was a certain amount of variety in. the aeroplanes entered, and so the 1931 King’s Cup Race did not turn out to be quite as uninteresting as many people had imagined. As was to be expected, there were more D.H. machines than any other make ; these comprised twelve “Gipsy Moths” and five “Puss Moths.” Five Blackburn ” Bluebirds ” were also entered, and there was a similar number of Avro ” Avians,” two Southern ” Martlet ” single-seaters, four Spartans, four “Widgeons,” and a Comper “Swift.” Then there was a Civilian Coupe, an Arrow “Active,” and a Curtiss-Reid “Rambler,” a Canadian designedand-built biplane which was flown by its owner.
Starting at Heston, the competitors followed a course to Desford aerodrome, near Leicester, Norwich, Nottingham (Tollerton) and then to Brough and Sherburn. They then had to cover a 90-miles leg to Castle Bromwich, double back to Woodtord aerodrome at Manchester, continue to Hooton and return via Castle Bromwich again to Heston. After a stop of forty minutes they then got away again on another circuit, with Shoreham, Hamble and Bristol as turning points. The total mileage was 982/.
The weather conditions from the start were most unpromising, and as the day wore on, the rain and wind increased and the visibility grew steadily worse. In consequence, a number of machines were out of the running fairly early, the first being T. W. Shipside’s Gipsy “Moth.” Shipside landed at Radlett, Herts. Meanwhile, the lead had been taken by J. Grierson on a Gipsy “Moth,” but between Nottingham and Leeds he was overtaken by Flight-Lieut. Gibbons, D.F.C., who was flying his own Spartan with a Cirrus-Hermes II engine. Flight-Lieut. Gibbons started 19th and by the time he had reached the first control (Norwich) his position was ninth. Having assumed the premier place at Leeds (where he was 13 seconds in front of Grierson), he flew an exceptionally good course in spite of the weather, and was still leading when he checked in again at Heston prior to attacking the Shoreham-HambleBristol circuit which formed the final part of the course. While Gibbons had thus been pushing on, FlyingOfficer E. C. T. Edwards with a ” Bluebird ” IV was hot on his tail— and the list of unfortunates, who had given up, for various reasons, increased. Squadron-Leader F. E. Guest who was accompanied in his” Moth” by Pilot-Officer Selway, withdrew at Norwich, as did Lady Bailey (” Puss Moth “), and Flight-Lieut. Wincott who was scratch man in the new and very attractive Arrow” Active” single-seater had a forced landing near Taddington and did not take off again. At Leeds there were numerous retirements including Miss Diana Guest and Flying Officer Nash (” Moth “), H. Peake and Squadron-Leader J. Woodhouse, D.S.O. (” Bluebird” IV), FlyingOfficer Gillan (” Bluebird” IV), Flying Officer Leech (Martlet), Flight-Lieut. J. Bradbury (” Bluebird ” IV), Flight-Lieut. D. Atcherley (” Bluebird” IV), and F. Gough (” Moth “). Ill:luck overtook H. R. Law who was suddenly faced with a
forced landing and had to put his ” Widgeon ” down in a hurry ; he turned up on his nose and broke the propellor. Then news came through at Heston that Miss Winifred Brown, last year’s King’s Cup winner, after taking off from Leeds had also retired as a result of a forced landing, in which things had been bent somewhat. F. Symondson (” Moth “) was another competitor to retire ; he landed near Sheffield with engine trouble, as did A. C. Johnstone (” Avian “).
By the time that the twenty-one survivors had duly checked in at Heston and—after the prescribed 40 minutes interval—taken off for the last section of the race, the rain and low-flying clouds had become appalling in their denseness. Indeed, after the gruelling the competitors had had up to this stage, it must have required a whole lot of doggedness to carry on. Most of the pilots looked extremely weary—the result of the strain of flying for hours in and below rain clouds, and over difficult country, where a forced landing would mean something rather serious, nine times out of ten.
It was on the last leg of the course that Gibbons was passed by Edwards They checked in and took off again simultaneously at the last control (Bristol), and a first rate duel ensued all the way to the finish, so that when they flashed over the line at the end of their strenuous 982/ miles journey, less than 3 minutes separated them.
The winner’s average speed worked out at 117.8 m.p.h., while Gibbons’ was 109 m.p.h. Third man home was Lieut. G. Rodd, R.N., on a “Puss Moth “. He put up the fastest time (127/ m.p.h.).
Plying Officer Edwards learned to fly in 1925 when he joined the Oxford University Air Squadron. In 1927 he received a permanent commission in the R.A.F., and in the past few years he has participated in a number of air races on different light ‘planes, notably an old Avro ” Baby ” and a Klemm.
A Close Finish.