Category Archives: Rally

Preparations for SAPFA Nationals Rally

As the final to be held on the 15th, 16th and 17th of April 2021 at Stellenbosch Flying Club are being put in place, it is time to reflect back on the Stellenbosch (practice) Rally that was held on Saturday 27 March 2012.

After some rain through the night, the skies in the Cape were perfect for flying. The day started nice and cool with little to no wind but this being the Cape… wind will always arrive when you need to make that perfect spot landing. Everyone was ready for the SAPFA Rally being held at the Stellenbosch Flying Club. Easily the flying club with the best views (and breakfast as well).

Pilots and navigators met up from early to top up the bodies with some coffee and a warm breakfast have a chat with fellow aviators and friends before the briefing that was to start at 9 am. Once the briefing started, the competitive side of pilots and navigators alike kicked in. Game on…

There was ample opportunity for those who had questions to ask them follow by the prepping for kicking off. Many had made notes during the briefing, clipboards came out, energy snacks and bag prepared, and even press tick to secure the smaller piece of paper that may be needed during the flight. Then the big moment… the locators were allocated and papers handed out. People couldn’t wait to get into the air and experience the beauty of the Cape. The route was to be a challenging one but also promised some good scenery.

With papers in hand, tanks topped up (humans and aircraft) and the day getting better and better the rally was about to start.

As the first batch of pilots took to the skies and getting to their targets, the normal Stellenbosch traffic and visitors were moving around. Some breakfast runs from Morningstar were made as well. As the day progressed and aircraft heading back, the wind started making an appearance. Getting stronger and stronger and I am pretty sure many pilots were hard at focus to stay as close as possible on target with the spot landing being the last major challenge.

The Cape wind just added another level of complexity to the already challenging route, next up… the landings. There was the odd bounce here and there but all in all good and some very great landings were made as pilots kept their cool and tackled the crosswind.

The second batch of pilots took to the air and by now they were fully aware of the wind. As the pilots went to hand in their locators and awaiting their results, the normal club visitors enjoyed the scenery with a cold beer and some lunch, children having fun, dads (even some moms) excited to show their young ones the aircraft… a very relaxed atmosphere while upstairs nervous pilot and navigators awaited their results. With the last pilots and navigators back at Stellenbosch Flying Club and their papers handed in, it was time to relax and enjoy a cold one.

Time for the announcing of the winners and where each team was ranked. Everyone was in agreement that the route was challenging (the route did have a name but there are children here, so we will just go with the route that shall not be named) but everyone was in the same boat. With the competition over, the social started and friends were friends again.

We all now look forward to the SAPFA National Rally Flying Championships held here in the Cape at Stellenbosch Flying Club.

I can only speak for myself but this was a most enjoyable day out. Even though the sanitizing and masks were in place with temperature checks, it was good to be out again. To experience the beauty of our country and back to the thing we love most… flying!

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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SAPFA Rally Training Camp

SAPFA Rally Training Camp – Aerosud Premises 18 January 2020 –
by Rob Jonkers – Photos by Flippie van Emmenis

SAPFA held a very successful training event on Rally Navigation on Saturday 18th January as the first SAPFA event of the year. Building on the successful event held last year at the same time, we decided to hold another one, particularly that this year is the year where SAPFA hosts the World Rally Flying Championships in November in Stellenbosch. There were 30 participants for the day, including many of the current SAPFA Protea team members who were assisting the trainees and our media friends. The Aerosud canteen was again the venue of choice lending itself well to this size of training camp.

It is great to see the sport being supported so enthusiastically, and the willingness to learn these basic skills of map reading and planning. The Chairman of SAPFA opened the camp with a brief outline of the plans of SAPFA in terms of events for the year, that the Aero Club also holds its Centenary year resulting in a packed calendar for the year, and from that look at developing and exposing particularly the youth to recreational aviation.

The Participants – 30 in total

With that Mary de Klerk took charge and laid out the objectives of the day, by initially going through the theory of plotting, and then to practice on an actual plot. With this year of 2020 having a full event calendar, and the Nationals coming up in April in Stellenbosch, this training event would serve as an excellent platform to entice new members to the sport and to start training for the Internationals and obtain Protea Colours.

Mary first started off with having everybody introduce themselves, and what they each had as objectives for training, some were there as newbies interested in taking part in the sport, some having taken part previously indicated they needed some formal and expert training, and some others indicated they just wanted to delve more in depth than what a ppl course would give on the art of paper based navigation.

From there Mary outlined the theory on plotting procedures and described the tools of the trade. Then it was off to plotting an example course which had to be done from basic plotting principles of co-ordinates, bearings (which could be in either true or magnetic) and distances (either in nm of km). Each turning point then had to be found and identified and linked into legs, some of which could be arcs or follow map features.

The goal in getting to National level standard is to be able to plot in the aircraft with a papers time of around 30-40 minutes prior take-off, which means speed is of the essence in doing the plot, so that the navigator can assist with finding and identifying the ground photos.

The morning’s training ended off at around 10h30 am, and after a short break, everybody got organized on plotting the example route provided which was the 2019 Rand Airport Challenge, got the laminated transparent tool, which they had to cut out, and proceeded to plot each of the turn points making up the route up until Turn Point 4, and after lunch at around 12, continued to finish the plot to the Finish Point.

After the plot was done, Mary opened up Google Earth, and “flew” the route along the plot lines to show where the photos were, and what they would look like against the photo sheets that are provided. This then effectively ended the day’s training at around 2 PM.

Everybody left with some knowledge gained on plotting and techniques of planning & flying a rally, and it is hoped that many will come to the Rand Challenge on the 25th January and Nationals in April.

The Rally Plotting Class of 2019 – with Teacher Mary de Klerk

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