Category Archives: General News and Airshow Reviews

Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as Chief of the South African Air Force

From the President’s media release: Major-General Mbambo began his military career in Umkhonto we Sizwe, where, among other things, he served as a training instructor in the Kibaxe Camp in Angola and was Commander in Charge of the former MK Military Aviation Group that underwent training in the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

He has served in several positions in the South African Air Force, including General Officer Commanding Air Force Base Waterkloof and Chief of Staff Air Operations Major-General Mbambo is currently Deputy Chief of Staff of the SANDF.”

New York Air National Guard Capt. Patrick Gillen leads South African Maj Gen Wiseman Simo Mbambo on a tour of a US Airforce C-5M Super Galaxy cargo bay undergoing refurbishment at the base during 2015

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also announced that from 1 June 2021, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya will take over as chief of the South African National Defense force SANDF from General Solly Shoke, who has been chief of the SANDF since 2011.

SAAF Helicopters from various squadrons ,Lynx,Oryx,Rooivalk and A109s

Air BP scores a hattrick of sustainable aviation fuel projects at three new locations in the UK

  • Air bp has recently completed projects resulting in SAF supply to three UK locations: London Biggin Hill, Hawarden and Centreline FBO Bristol. 
  • Air bp has now supplied SAF to over 20 locations globally.
  • These latest additions to Air bp’s growing list of SAF available locations demonstrates the importance of collaboration to help drive demand and meet industry lower carbon goals.

Air bp, the international aviation fuel products and service supplier, has recently supplied sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to three airports in the UK: dedicated business aviation airport, London Biggin Hill (BQH), Airbus owned Hawarden (CEG) airport in Flintshire, North Wales, which will be used for fuelling of the Beluga aircraft, and Centreline FBO, in Bristol (BRS). All three locations expect to have SAF available on an ongoing basis. These latest supply agreements demonstrate the importance of collaboration between fuel supplier, airport and customer in driving demand for SAF and ultimately help to meet the industry’s lower carbon goals. 

The SAF supplied by Air bp is made from waste based sustainable feedstocks such as used cooking oil which is blended with traditional jet fuel. The SAF blend supplied is around 35% SAF and the SAF component provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of around 80% compared to traditional jet fuel it replaces.

Andreea Moyes, sustainability director, Air bp, said: “We are excited to see these ongoing commitments to SAF supply. Stakeholders’ willingness to invest in SAF and collaborate with us will help drive demand and deliver carbon reductions compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces. We are committed to working with stakeholders to explore the viable sale and purchase of SAF, which we believe is one of the aviation industry’s key routes to reducing carbon emissions.”

Stephen Elsworthy, manager of fuel services at London Biggin Hill Airport, says: “By offering Air bp’s sustainable aviation fuel to all our customers and resident businesses, we are helping them to meet their sustainability goals too, and vitally, contributing to our industry’s aim for a net zero carbon future”.

Gus Paterson, chief operating officer of Centreline’s parent company Pula Aviation Services Limited, says “In response to growing demand, we’re delighted to be able to offer SAF to our customers and to support global efforts to decarbonise aviation. Air bp is fully committed to supporting its FBOs in understanding SAF and the impact and opportunities it can have for their business and ultimately identifying opportunities for SAF supply.”

Air bp was involved in fuelling the first SAF flight by an airline in February 2008 and since then has been enabling ground-breaking test flights and investing in sustainable alternative fuels.

Bell Delivers First Bell 505 to Ugandan Aviation Company

Fort Worth, TX (Apr. 6, 2021) Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced the
delivery of a Bell 505 helicopter equipped with the Med-Pac Inc. LLC Emergency Medical Services Lite
Interior to BAR Aviation. This marks the first Bell 505 in Uganda and the first Bell 505 designed to
complete medical evacuation (medevac) missions in Africa.


“We are elated that BAR Aviation has chosen the Bell 505 as its Helicopter Emergency Medical Services
(HEMS) platform and will operate the first medevac Bell 505 in Africa,” said Lynette Loosen, regional
sales manager, Africa. “By leveraging the aircraft’s unique design, competitive cost and flexible kit
installation, the platform enables our customers to provide safe and reliable medical services to its
patients.”


BAR Aviation is a Ugandan aviation company known for being the leading operator in the region. Among
its many services, BAR provides air medical evacuation services to support communities and connect
them to life-saving medical support. The Bell 505 will support the work of the Ministry of Health,
Ministry of Tourism, and the police.


“We are proud to accept the delivery of the first Bell 505 in Uganda,” said Barak Orland, CEO, BAR
Aviation. “We saw the need and importance of having an evacuation helicopter in the country that helps
give the citizens of Uganda the best chances of survival in the critical golden hour. The Bell 505 is an
excellent aircraft for the job with state-of-the-art safety features and avionics that allow the pilots to
reach their destinations quickly and safely.”


The Med-Pac EMS Lite Interior offers a carbon fiber deck, back wall equipment rack, oxygen tank and
medical supply bag. The stretcher system can be installed in less than 15 minutes with the 505’s easily
removeable seats and flat floor. The Bell 505 is the only current production short light single-engine
helicopter that can fit a stretcher system.


“We congratulate BAR Aviation on the acquisition of its new Bell 505, which adds another Textron
product to its growing fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters,” said Jim Evans, CEO, Africair. “As one

of Bell’s independent representatives for much of Africa, Africa has supported helicopter operators
across the continent for over 40 years.  Together with Bell, we will do everything possible to ensure that
the 505 exceeds BAR Aviation’s expectations.”
With a speed of 125 knots (232 kilometers per hour) and a useful load of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms),
the Bell 505 is designed to be safe and easy to fly while providing unmatched value to the operator.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’ flies again since 2001

The Atlas Cheetah is a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation. It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force. It was known many ex SAAF Mirage IIIs were converted from the help of the country of Israel using other airframes from Kfir and Nesher delta fighters to name a few.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’

The South African Airforce retired the Denel Cheetah in April 2008 as the new SAAB JAS39 Gripens were slowly entering service and replacing the Cheetah at 2 Squadron ,Airforce Base Makhado in the Limpopo province.

Draken International has acquired 12 Cheetahs to be utilised as aggressor aircraft flying against some of the worlds most deadly fighters jet the US Airforce and other forms of arms.

Pre 2003 SAAF Insignia still on the aircraft

Draken International, LLC is an American provider of tactical fighter aircraft for contract air services including military and defense industry customers. The firm is based at the Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida and also has an operating base at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

On April 9 2021 Denel Cheetah C ‘376’ took to the skies piloted by Denel test pilot Ivan “Viking” Pentz. This particular cheetah hadn’t flown since October 2001.What a great sight to see the fast mover up in South African skies as she gets ready to depart for the United States soon.

Denel Cheetah C ‘376’
Ivan “Viking” Pentz

Photos by Casper van Zyl

TR Eagle Air (Pty) Ltd and COVID-19

TR Eagle Air (PTY) Ltd has been in operation as an approved Training Organization (ATO) for a period of more than 19 years. Before incorporation as a company with limited liability, Eagle Aviation was conducted as a sole proprietorship for the preceding years until 2015 when Eagle Aviation was incorporated as a company under the name T R Eagle Air (PTY) Ltd with company registration 2015/040049/07. As such Eagle Aviation, now known as T R Eagle Air (PTY) LTD has been registered as an Aircraft Training Organization (ATO) with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). Eagle Air is authorised to conduct flight training on Fixed Wing as well as Helicopter, PPL to ATPL.

Eagle Air has since become operational and moreover after incorporation as a private company with limited liability, complied with all its Statutory Taxation obligations and has a valid Tax Clearance Certificate of Good Standing.

Eagle Air is situated at Wonderboom National Airport, Pretoria South Africa. Wonderboom have a fully functional Air Traffic Control Tower, with a ground and tower frequency so students are exposed to radio work from the start and this creates confident and polished pilots. Their pledge to all their clients is to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective flight training. Situated at Wonderboom students have 2 General Flying Areas, both minutes after take-off which leads to a cost saving for students.

Eagle Air has obtained their pledge even during a world-wide pandemic. They did not allow the pandemic to stop them from growing into one of the best flying schooPs in South Africa. Eagle Air was the first ATO to draft and submit a Covid-19 Protocol to the SACAA.

Eagle Air did not come to a halt when the rest of the world did. In the months of lockdown, they developed an online system where students could authorise their briefings and flights, update personal information and keep track of all related training. The Flight Training might have been placed on hold, but their instructors found a way to still assist students as far as possible. Briefings were conducted online through multiple online platforms, small videos were sent to students with little motivation and training notes. Eagle Air kept an open communication channel with all students to keep them in the loop on all new developments. Eagle Air was also one of the first ATO’s to implement Computer Based Training (CBT) doing away with the traditional hard-copy aviation study material.

Even it’s Maintenance department did not just sit back when flight training was not possible. Their Fleet was still regularly maintained to ensure that all aircraft was airworthy for operation once training could commence. Such maintenance was authorised by the SACAA as essential maintenance.

And most importantly, the pandemic did not deter any prospective student to make enquiries on joining Eagle Air Family. Around 20 new students was enrolled during level 5 lock down and have started their new adventure. Since being allowed to operate under level 3, a further 80 students have enrolled and have commenced training.

The number of their students have increased astronomically this year, and have even double in figures in comparison with last yeaös rate. Eagle Air took this opportunity to not only employ qualified Senior Instructors from the Airline Industry to accommodate the influx of students, but also admin staff members to assist where necessary.

Due to this booming growth in the Eagle Air Family, Eagle expanded their facilities by the addition of a new Hangar with more comfortable office space and ample study areas for students. A crew room has also been provided for the instructors.

The expansion also included additional aircraft which increase the Eagle Fleet from 18 Training aircraft to 24 Training Aircraft. The overall expansion would mean that all current and prospective students will be accommodated fully with their training needs.

Eagle Air has, and still, adheres toa Il Covid-19 Rules and Regulations. Sanitising stations were erected, and every main building has a section where hands can be sanitised. Eagle has appointed its own Covid-19 compliant officer who ensures that all regulations are strictly complied with. Sanitisation certificates is also available for all offices, hangars, Simulator and for each individual aircraft.

Everybody at Eagle predicts even bigger things to come, and as one big family standing together, nothing can withhold the Eagle from spreading his wings even wider and flying even higher.

To support the above contention, Eagle is in the final stages of acquiring an AOC for Charters and intends to expand their helicopter training before the end of the year.

Click on photo to enlarge

Bell, Rotorcraft, Transforming the Logistics Operations of the African Mining Industry

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Transforming the Logistics Operations of the African Mining Industry

For centuries, the African continent has been the leading source of natural resources and is home to 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, shaping the various economies of the region. A number of international companies now work in the mining industry, constantly looking for new ways to streamline the process of transporting mined minerals to their desired locations. Historically the process of transportation has always faced issues and delays with many mines in inaccessible locations.

In the past, the industry has been behind in adopting new and innovative logistics techniques to help facilitate its growth. Only recently has technology played a critical role, leading to improved efficiency of processes, and reduction of costs, as stated by the Journal of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration in their recent paper on the topic.

However, an increased use of rotorcraft and even unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer the industry solutions to some longstanding logistical challenges. These aircraft can be used to carry heavy loads and assist in the transportation of vital equipment to and from remote and difficult-to-access locations. These important developments are being supported by local authorities with, for instance, the South African Civil Aviation Authority recently approving the use of a remotely piloted aerial system for the mining sector to help revolutionize the industry.

Meanwhile, the capabilities of rotorcraft in assisting with complex and heavy logistical challenges have been exemplified in the work of Rocky Mountain Rotors, an American helicopter chartering company founded by Mark Taylor. It has been using a Bell 505 helicopter to assist in transportation operations and rescue missions in the Rocky Mountains. With a payload of up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) at and an altitude range of 22,500 feet density altitude (6,096 meters) thanks to its Arrius 2R engine, the Bell 505 has proven a worthy companion against heavier and more expensive competition.

Mark and his team have tested the durability of the 505 on numerous occasions. His first job was to transport almost eight tons of equipment across six miles (nine kilometers) of dense forest at 7,700 feet (2,347 meters). On another occasion, Mark used a 505 to transport over 750 pounds (340 kilograms) of load up the mountains. The Bell 505 flew in at 9,200 feet (2,904 meters) and performed a delicate set down of the cargo on the frozen Delta Lake at 9016 feet (2,748 meters).

The Bell 505’s extreme towing capabilities, as well as its power to weight numbers mean that it can operate at a lower cost the other, larger aircrafts. This in turn provides a new alternative to the mining industry in Africa, which historically is heavily reliant on trucks to access the harshest of terrains.

Bell is actively collecting information for the future of mobility and aircrafts like the Bell 505 are perfectly suited to accommodate everything from VIP transportation to external cargo lift missions. This is because it is reliable, cost-effective, and safe to perform a wide variety of missions in efficient travel times.

Another transformative technology that could reshape the mining industry in Africa is the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in operations. UAVs have been used traditionally in geological mapping missions, but never to carry significant pay loads.

In an effort to save time and costs, UAVs such as Bell’s Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) might just be the answer. The vehicle is capable of autonomous flight and taking off and landing vertically. It has demonstrated the ability to carry a payload of 110 Ibs (50 kilograms), offering a solution for mining companies who are looking to transport goods away from mining sites.

Bell understands the need to modernize the mining industry and is developing tools to solve this. With the 505, it can offer customers an opportunity to hoist larger cargo to and from different locations, while with the APT, swifter and less costly aircraft for smaller payload. Both aircrafts open a new world of possibilities for logistical transportation. By efficiently moving goods from one location to another, they provide safe, cost and time efficient solutions for mining companies looking at alternative means of transportation.

Sameer Rehman, Managing Director of Africa and the Middle East, Bell, commented: “With the Bell 505, we have an aircraft that has shown time and again that it can be trusted to operate in high-risk locations and with heavy payloads, providing a capable machine for logistics operators. With APT, Bell is set to re-define on-demand logistics support across a number of industries, Thanks to its autonomous flight capability and intuitive interface, the simplicity of the UAV’s operation means that it can go further, faster and carry payloads at increased ranges all while saving time, cost and energy.”

To find out more about the 505’s cargo hook capabilities, the APT’s capacity and the rest of Bell’s existing product line up, please visit https://www.bellflight.com/

The Aircraft Unlimted Witbank Speed Navigation Rally

The Aircraft Unlimted Witbank Speed Navigation Rally – 13 February 2021 by Rob Jonkers

This first of the 3rd Season Aircraft Unlimited Speed Rallies for 2021 has been held at Witbank, organised by SAPFA and hosted by the Witbank Aeronautical Association. This event was held virtually a year ago at the same venue, and the world of course has changed substantially since then, although it seems yesterday that we were last here.

It has for sure been an event fraught with challenges, from the start of having to postpone it from the original planned date of 6 February as the last throes of cyclone Eloise was still drenching the Highveld, to having to line up a new ground support team (as many of the stalwarts were not available this weekend), to having to ride through a number of mistakes on the day. Nevertheless, the end result was at least a safe and successful rally.

There were 30 entries, quite a full field given the current situation, with a number of local aircraft taking part. Three flight schools entered, Legend Sky from Rhino Park, Mach 1 from Springs and a large contingent with 5 entries from Bird Aviation based at Vereeniging. The weather outlook was predicted to be poor, and on Friday the wind was pumping at between 15 – 20kts from the north-east with 6/8 cloud, with the forecast for Saturday giving low cloud with afternoon rain – seemed the next tropical depression was on its way from the east coast.

The Friday afternoon initial briefing started at 18h00, with Rob Jonkers who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turnpoints, distance, departure and arrivals protocol, and a weather outlook. After this Jonty did his signature event promotion of handing out race numbers, where after the club provided a nice dinner spread, before retiring for the evening.

Saturday morning dawned with more promising weather, the predicted low cloud did not materialise, and by 9 am the cloud base had risen to above 6500 ft, with a still strong easterly wind. The briefing was held at 08h00 am and was concluded at around 08h30, where everybody dispersed first for a group photo and then to park their aircraft and prepare for the scrutineers. The route for the day was intended to be a scenic one, mostly north of the Loskop dam in the Groblersdal area which has many rivers and hills.

Each team were supposed to get their envelops with their loggers 20 minutes prior take-off, somehow the papers hand-out team received an incorrect time list which showed an hour ahead of when the papers were supposed to be given. Although the first 5 aircraft were given their papers early, once the mistake was realised, a reset had to be brought into effect. 1st take-off was at 09h53 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 10h40, with planned arrival at 11h30.

With all the competitors off towards the northwest, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints, especially TP6 which required good navigating skills to find the canal and road crossing, from the results this turn point seems to have been difficult to home onto. With the windy conditions the aircraft coming over the line were more spread out than before, most competitors were over the line within 10 minutes, with one straggler that decided a visit to Nylstroom was in order….

After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, with the tracks for a number being quite accurate, although some had wobbles, three had got significantly lost.

Getting the results out on time proved to be a challenge, with changes in the scoring system there were some gremlins that had to be fixed, and that required extra time, also with impending bad weather moving in, many competitors started to depart. Aiming for a 2 pm prize-giving was just not working out, and with too few left at the field, it was decided to postpone the prize-giving to later the day, however a small prize giving was held for the most creative route – which turned out to be the Cessna 310 that found its way to Nylstroom, the trophy for the host club, and the most enthusiastic crew which went to ZS-PJK.

Given the additional time for scoring, and having to check of anomalies of the results, particularly the track error accuracy, it was decided to review go-pro footage to assess any auto-pilot usage, which given the size of the files, could only be checked the next day. Once the review was done and no anomalies found, could the results be published, although some mistakes crept in when the prize giving information was compiled. Nevertheless the scores on the leader board results are correct (given on the website), and the trophies granted remain with the recipients as given.

For the Navigation Accuracy category, third place went to Jonty & Jonathan Esser in their C150 ZU-BLL, in 2nd place Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY and in 1st place Hendrik & Jandre Loots in the Sling ZU-IHK. For the Handicap/Speed category, third place went to Roger Bozzoli & Nadine Brooker in their Piper Arrow ZS-KFM, in 2nd place John Sayers and Jack Coetzer in their Mighty Mouse Harvard ZS-WSE and in 1st place Mad Dogs Von Hamman and Ron Stirk in their C150 ZS-NBT. Overall Winners in third place went to Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer in their Harmony ZUFWS, in 2nd place Mike Blackburn and Steve Briggs in their Sling ZU-IBM, and in 1st place Ryan and Chris Shillaw in their Cirrus ZS-ACA.

Many thanks to the Witbank Aeronautical Association for hosting this fantastic event, supporting with logistics and great meals available throughout the day, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos doing the scoring, Chester Chandler on handicapping, Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw for taking on the role of starter, Clarissa for handing out competition papers to the crews. Although there were some hiccups, eventually the participants got airborne. Thanks also extended to Santjie White of the ARCC who always watches over us..

Also thanks to our sponsors, Aircraft Unlimited being our signature Speed Rally Brand Sponsor, Flightline Weekly for sponsoring the race numbers, and our team sponsors, Prompt Roofing, Fast Flame Laser cutting, Century Avionics, Beegle Micro trackers, JB Switchgear.

Our next Speed Rally event will be in Middelburg on the 27th of April 2021

Nice perfect Track

Oops – Went to Nylstroom

Bell Acquires Response Technologies in Pursuit of Advancing Fuel Cell Technology

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Bell Acquires Response Technologies in Pursuit of Advancing Fuel Cell Technology

Dubai, UAE (February 15, 2020) – Bell announced its acquisition of Response Technologies LLC, an innovative composite solutions company. This acquisition adds to Bell’s extensive technology portfolio in the aerospace and manufacturing industry.

“This acquisition aligns with our strategy to pursue innovative technology and will enable us to accelerate needed developments in our industry,” said Mitch Snyder, President and CEO of Bell. “We believe Response Technologies has the right solution for modernizing fuel cell systems and textile composites. We are proud to have them join the Bell family.”

Response Technologies is a startup founded in 2015 that is focused on flexible, 3D, textile-reinforced composite solutions. The company has two business areas of development: fuel cells and components and textile composites. With a focus on advanced manufacturing, Response Technologies’ mission aligns closely with Bell’s Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Innovation team.

Having many benefits over traditional combustion-based technologies usually used in most power plants and cars, fuel cells produce significantly less quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems.

“We are excited to join the Bell team, and the larger Textron enterprise, for the benefits it will bring to our customers,” said David Pettey, co-founder, Response Technologies. “Bringing disruptive ideas to the world’s largest industries has always been our vision and our team looks forward to continuing our propelled and vertical progress.”

With an 85-year history of leading innovation in aviation, from the first American jet fighter to the first tiltrotor, Bell is committed to building revolutionary and coveted vertical lift products. Today, Bell carries that legacy forward by solving complex mobility issues and supporting consumers, warfighters and industries with exceptional technology and experiences.

To learn more, follow our progress on Bell’s social channels or visit the Bell website: https://www.bellflight.com/

RAND AIRPORT CHALLENGE 30 JAN 2021

The 17th Rand Airport Challenge was scheduled to take place at Rand Airport on Saturday 30th Jan 2021. However, the weather gods were not playing ball this time, and with “Eloise” blanketing almost the entire country in clouds and rain, we had to revert to PLAN B.

With the 22nd World Rally Flying Championships postponed to November 2021, the pressure is on to train and select the best Air Rally Team to represent South Africa at this prestigious event. With most of the “old guard” still in place and planning to take part, the opportunity, however, exists to bring some new fresh blood into the South African Rally Flying Team. 

The sport of Rally Flying is not an easy sport. It requires an exceptionally strong “2-man” team of both Pilot and Navigator. Unlike most of the other Air Sporting disciplines which are flyable at competition level, as long as one member of the team is well trained, in Rally Flying a strong pilot without a strong navigator and vice versa is as good as having no team at all.

For this reason, Jonty Esser, who himself is a well-seasoned Protea Rally Flying Pilot (as well as a local aerobatic pilot) has been selected to coach the 2021 South African Flying Team to victory, as soon as they have been selected which should be post the National Championships in April 2021. Now for the official team to be selected, this team has to be sufficiently trained in order to fly to the required standard criteria as laid down by the world organisation.

The past decade (plus) of Fun Rally Programs, introduced by Frank Eckard and Mary de Klerk, and the more recent program of Speed Rallies introduced by Jonty Esser and Rob Jonkers, has produced a remarkably high standard of potential Protea Pilots and Navigators that now need to be put through the Rally Flying Grinder Training modules.

There was no better opportunity to start the 2021 training program than the cancelled Rand Airport Challenge on Saturday 30th Jan 2021. No less than 25 exceptionally keen potential Team members arrived for the “On the Ground” training Modules. The Pilots were herded off into a separate venue and were taught some intricacies of rally flying in terms of fine tuning their approaches and timing overturn points etc by Jonty.  The navigators were put through their paces by 30-year rally veteran, Mary, who spent the best part of a 4 hour period unpacking the plotting procedures, tools required and methodologies with the teams. She was adequately assisted by the other Protea Rally veterans, Frank & Cally Eckard, Hans Schwebel, Ron Stirk, Rob Jonkers, Martin Meyer, and Sandi Goddard. It is interesting to note that even though the “old guard” have between them, thousands of  hours of local, national and international experience, they still managed to find time to drive through to Rand in the rain in order to sharpen their own skills and assist with all the newbies. Hats off to you guys!

Also, in attendance was the Aviation Legend Chester Chandler who, in his eighties now, still dedicated his day to visit and monitor the training session with great interest. He also stayed for the SAPFA AGM which was held at 14h00 and chaired by none other than Rob Jonkers with his dedicated SAPFA Committee members. We all welcomed Ian and Taryn Myburgh as new members onto the committee.

Rally Flying is a well renowned international sport recognised by the FAI. To represent one’s country at an international event is a supreme achievement. I applaud everyone who is taking the sport seriously in order to up weight their own personal skills and achieve what many others would only dream to achieve. However, nothing comes easy – it all requires many hours of hard work and input in order to succeed. Training training training ……

Watch this space to monitor all the upcoming training sessions and who the final SOUTH AFRICAN RALLY FLYING TEAM to represent our beloved country and the World Championships this year will consist of.

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Birth of the Inspiration Pattern ship “Inspiration 1”

This is the story of a model radio-controlled aircraft, which was designed and built from scratch, during the lockdown in South Africa in 2020. It was built by Alec McNamara, from Durban South Africa, who told his story to Aviation Central Durban reporter Trevor Viljoen.

History on the design and build of the INSPIRATION 1
At the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown in South Africa on the 26th of March 2020, I was in the process of building and covering a 101” Big Stik. Around the 3rd of April 2020, I ran out of shrink cover and could not get any delivered as the shrink cover I use, is imported.

After two days of watching TV and being totally bored, I decided to clear my build table and take my roll of drawing paper and cut a piece at 2.5 meters. I then put a center line on the page and started drawing. I had the idea that I wanted to build a Patterns Ship. Over the next two and a half weeks I sat drawing, erasing and redrawing until I got a rough plan of what I wanted.
The following two weeks I just sat and fine-tuned the plan, taking into consideration I do not have a drawing program on my computer.

On the 7th of May 2020, I was required to return to work and with great excitement, I took the wood sizes that I had worked out with me and on my way home I stopped by the local wood shop (Timber City Pinetown) to purchase a sheet of the lightest 3.0mm commercial plywood they had and got it cut to size as they offer that service. They obliged with no hesitation and 30 minutes later I walked out with all my wood cut to the required size.

The Inspiration then started to develop.

All the cutting and shaping was done by hand using sanding blocks and a Dremel.
The canopy and cowl are made with moulded fibre glass and painted with 2K paint. The landing gear is made of a fibreglass inner with a double carbon outer layer. The Inspiration took all of Eight (8) months to develop into this flying giant.

After an extensive meeting with Jason Barker “The Durban Drone Guy”, an experienced Pattern and Advanced 3D Pilot, six (6) hours were spent going through the, almost ready, Inspiration. He advised on some changes that I should consider. I heeded his advice and made the changes accordingly.

The Inspiration 1…
On Sunday morning of the 6th of December 2020 at around 08:45 I loaded the Inspiration 1 in the car and my daughter and I headed for MMAC (Maritzburg Model Aircraft Club) where we met Jason. We went through the Inspiration 1 for the final time and did a second range check. I then did the Pre-Flight Inspection and got the Inspiration 1 ready for her maiden flight. We then found on taxiing that the landing gear was a little unstable. We made a bit of a jimmy by putting linked rubber bands on the landing gear to hold them in a suitable stable position for the maiden flight.
Only once Jason was satisfied with the makeshift repair would he take her into the air. Jason did some ground runs and we found that the spring from the rudder to the rear wheel was too soft and steering was a bit erratic. Once he saw that and we still had some form of control Jason lined the Inspiration 1 up for take-off, did some final checks, revved the motor to feel for unwanted vibration and was then ready for take-off.

At approximately 13:15, the INSPIRATION 1 was born as she left the ground on her maiden flight, piloted by Jason Barker. Oh My… What A Spectacular Sight She Was!
I give many, many thanks to Jason (the test pilot) for the time expended and all the advice given with getting this model to where she is today and for taking her through her paces on her maiden flight.

Specifications:
Wingspan – 1930 mm
Fuselage – 2100 mm
Wing Aspect Ratio – 5.68
Dry Weight – 8.1 kg

Motor – CRRC Pro 36cc
Propeller – 19 x 8 Falcon painted wood propeller
Motor cut off – RCEXL opto ignition kill switch
Ignition Battery – X-power 2100mah 2S1P Life battery
Ignition unit – RCEXL Ignition unit (Comes with Motor)

Electronics:
Receiver – AR8010T 8CH Air Telemetry with satellite receiver
Throttle servo – CYS S3006 – 6 kg (Plastic Gear)
Aileron Servo – 2 x CYS S0110 – 11 kg (Metal Geared)
Elevator servo – 2 x CYS S3006 – 6 kg (Plastic Gear)
Rudder servo – CYS S0150 – 15 kg (Metal Geared)
Receiver batteries – 2 x X-power 2100mah 2S1P Life battery

Alec McNamara

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