Grand Central Fun Rally 2019

Grand Central Fun Rally – 14 Sep 2019 by Rob Jonkers

This year’s SAPFA Fun navigation rally had its challenges in getting off the ground, the date initially set for the 7th September, where two other events entered the fray, that being the Children’s Flight and the SAAF Museum Airshow, and then the weather conspired to also be against us with fould weather on both the Friday and the Saturday.

In any event the date was moved by a week to the 14th September which coincided with the RV day and the Tedderfield Sling Fly-in, it seems everybody was getting into the spring feeling to hold events…. This Fun rally event is run in conjunction with Superior Pilot Services (SPS) who provide the facilities and sponsor a great breakfast at the Harvard, and an opportunity to allow their students to get to grips with rally flying.

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The teams busy plotting the course from the task sheets

For a number of years now Rob Jonkers planned and plotted the course for this event, catering for Open class and a Fun class, where the fun class introduces newbies to the sport. Entrants were planned to be around ten crews, with four from SPS and six from other airfields, and with the Protea teams still in Portugal having just completed the ANR World Championships were not available to take part. Eventually on the day only four teams could take part, thus it was a small field, with two in fun class and two in the Open class.

Most competitors arrived by 8.00 on Saturday morning to first enjoy the Harvard breakfast, thereafter briefing and plotting. The weather forecast looked promising with clear skies with 10+ kts wind later in the morning, which proved to become somewhat blustery closer to midday.

The route was planned to go out north, into familiar territory for the competitors as most of the legs were in their GF backyard. The start and finish points were just north of the N14 in the narrow Special Rules corridor between the Waterkloof & Lanseria airspace, and from there the route went out over the Hartebeespoort dam, across the Magalies ridge and into the scenic Crocodile river valley, then east across to Soshanguve and back across the ridge to the finish.

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Matthew French & Mike Blackburn plotting their course

From the GPS logger plot results, it could be seen the teams were struggling to slow down enough on the eastern & southern legs with many zig-zags being evident to counter the stronger wind at altitude.

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The Apron of Grand Central with competitor aircraft

There was one photo per leg that needed to be recognized, some of them were at least spotted by the crews, including a bonus photo which was one of those irresistible features (Stadium) that had to be found somewhere along the route, and which many crews did find in Attridgeville on the last leg.


Approaching the Crocodile Valley – Landscape still wintery

After all the scores were tallied, first in Fun class was Matthew French with navigator Michael Blackburn in their very fast Mooney, second was father and son Jan and Max Coetzee in a C182. In this class the navigation accuracy allows 15 seconds at each gate before penalties are applied, one penalty per second.

In Open class in first place was Nick Christodoulou with navigator Andre Kluyts in a C172, and for this event a Route Planner class…. Rob Jonkers with his trusty navigator Martin Meyer in a C182, and being the route planner was expected to return with a perfect zero, but could not find the all the photos…., memory not that good it seems. In this class the navigation accuracy allows 2 seconds at each gate before penalties are applied, three penalties per second.

The navigation tracks – all seems fine until the eastern & southern legs

This event was for sure enjoyed by all, getting an understanding of flying with more precision, especially in the slower flight regime, and having to deal with wind variation. Many thanks extended to SPS for making all the arrangements with Grand Central Management, and for the fantastic breakfast and for Franz Smit and Ashley Loynes for joining at the start and providing the teams with much needed water refreshments.

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