SAPFA Rally Flying Training Camp – Brits Airfield 16 February 2019

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SAPFA Rally Flying Training Camp – Brits Airfield 16 February 2019 – by Rob Jonkers

As a follow-on to the Rally Navigation Training events held at Aerosud on the 19th of January 2019, it was planned to fly the practice route that was plotted on that day. The 16th February was chosen and as the week unfolded with almost daily rain, it looked auspicious to get good weather, although it looked a little promising on Friday. As the day dawned, the clouds were on the deck throughout Gauteng, north of the Magalies in the Brits area was a bit better. The cloud base only started lifting around 9 am, and then only in patches, so even with 12 teams registered to take part, only 4 teams eventually were able to get to Brits. Frank & Cally Eckard prepared the route packs for the teams and were on hand to do the scoring. 

Frank Eckard – Presenting the Rally Flying Techniques Course

The focus of the day was more related to flying techniques and Frank Eckard provided an hour’s presentation on how to prepare the cockpit, roles of the crew in work sharing, organizing the photos, flying techniques such as speed management, altitude, approach to turn points.

Nigel Hopkins & Mary de Klerk preparing their maps for their flight

The teams then plotted the course, basically replotted the course that was previously prepared a month ago, and went to fly the route. Aerobatics ace & SAA Captain Nigel Hopkins who has been a previous rally world champion 15 years ago, flew with experienced navigator Mary de Klerk, and proved by his excellent score of 64 penalty points that he has not lost his touch in rally flying.

Leon Bouttell & Karyn Purchase preparing their Plots

Veteran Protea Pilot Thys vd Merwe preparing the maps with Navigator Frans Smit

As SAPFA is preparing for the World Rally Flying Championships in 2020, the focus on these two years prior the event, is to gain as many South African qualified teams to take part, and every event being held this year will be an event that can improve skills.

Nigel & Mary preparing the cockpit

To achieve world standard qualification, there is a route to achieve these skills in classes, with Advanced Class as the definitive level of competition, where existing Protea teams would compete and new teams would vie to achieve a qualification standard. The initial Sportsman’s Class is the entry level where teams gain experience to get to try their hand at the Advanced Class. There is also an Intermediate Class, which has a combination of Protea pilots and navigators that fly or navigate with new team members as further skill building in a step to achieve an Advanced level.

A competitive score for Nigel on a route with arcs and follow the feature

The next rally is being held at Virginia on the 26th March, and as the weather was not favourable on this weekend, SAPFA will look at rescheduling this event again at a future date.

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