Aviation Ambassador

Adventures with G-AKDN - Chapter 21

The slim streamlined silver Chipmunk G-AKDN streaked across the finish line winning the 1953 Kings Cup Air Race at a speed of 140 mph. Piloted by deHavilland test pilot Pat Fillingham with his wife Sonja navigating. Now 63 years later KDN wearing it’s wining race number 54, is reunited with her Navigator Sonja Fillingham and the original Kings Cup Trophy!


Pat Fillingham holding The Kings Cup with Sonja at his side. 1953


Sonja Fillingham, KDN and The Kings Cup, together again 63 years later.

Karen and I have flown KDN to Kemble Airfield on the Eastern side of The Cotswolds for the Kings Cup reunion. There are many other aircraft flying in today that also share the prize of winning the Cup. It is amazing to see the wide range of types that have their names engraved on the trophy. The weather has been typical UK summer with rain. I believe this has limited some from attending, but we are surprised at the ones that do make the effort are the older vintage types as opposed to the modern ones that are more recent winners.

It is especially great to have Sonja here to be reunited with KDN as well as seeing the original Cup again after so many years. Sonja has also brought her “keeper’ Cup. It is a smaller version of the original that she was allowed to keep. While the original Cup has Pat’s name and race date engraved on it, Sonja’s has KDN’s registration and the winning speed also engraved on it. This is the first time Karen and I have ever seen these trophies and we are very excited to see them together with KDN. We have a very nice day visiting with Sonja and the other pilots listing to them exchange racing stories.


Sonja's "keeper' trophy engraved-Winner Pat Fillingham Chipmunk G-AKDN Speed 140MPH


Dave and Karen with Sonja, holding her Kings Cup "keeper", in front of KDN.

We are also looking forward to entering this years Kings Cup race with KDN. It is unlikely we will achieve the speed of Sonja and Pat but it will be a rewarding experience just to have KDN participating 63 years after her first win. I don’t know if there is another airplane that will have that distinction. As we will see, the racing is sometimes the easiest part of the event.

To be continued...

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