Tag Archives: Jonty Esser

Season Finale Speed Navigation Rally ’22

The Holborn Assets Springs Season Finale Speed Navigation Rally – 1 October 2022 by Rob Jonkers (photos by Jaco Pitout, Rob Jonkers)

The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) organised the 2022 Season finale Speed Navigation Rally on Saturday 1st October 2022 to take place at Springs. This being the 4th event in Season 4 of the Speed Rally series. As a season finale it would end with a black tie gala dinner on the Saturday evening against the standard already set in 2020 ending Season 2. Our Season 4 events were held in Witbank, Middelburg, Groblersdal and lastly Springs. Groblersdal was a new venue for this season, where SAPFA has been looking at diversifying venues and partnering with clubs to hold these events, and we hope to look at other venues again in 2023.

As most will remember, the 2021 season finale also at Springs was rained out, and this time, conditions were totally the opposite, with summer like clear skies and temperatures, in fact the Density Altitude was around 8000 ft with wind and turbulence affecting aircraft performance, many speeds seen were somewhat reduced from expectations.

Entries for this finale were 14, and as with previous entries since Witbank also somewhat subdued given the economics seen in the Aviation industry with fuel priced over R35/l in most places. The Springs club provided their facilities to hold the event and the briefing was held in the new open area adjacent to the club-house. As with Groblersdal, the competition would be arranged over 2 days, being Saturday and Sunday, with prize giving as an evening function. Arrivals would be on Saturday morning with a start mid-morning (previously a Friday arrival and early morning start), and departures on Sunday.

Race Master David le Roux called for the briefing to start at 10 am, where the teams were introduced and race numbers were handed out. We welcome back the Mach 1 school entry of Manaf Mubarak competing in a Beechcraft Sundowner. Thereafter Iaan Myburgh as the competition Director went through the safety and route briefing for the day. After that all the teams prepared their aircraft, scruntineered, and were handed out their papers, with a minor map glitch had to move the take-off times by 25 minutes. Martin Meyer and myself were under starters orders to man the start line on runway 03, and waved off (air carrier style…) all the teams. The arrival time was 13h25 with the Lanceair crossing the line first followed by the Sling. Everybody were home safely, just the Falco had some engine difficulties and had to return early (missed 2 turnpoints) but still finished to score. The scoring team got on to provide individual results for everybody that were handed out in the afternoon, then most retired to their lodges or returned home to come back to the airfield for the gala dinner.

The gala dinner took take place in Gavin Brown’s Classic Wings hangar with a great backdrop of some of his classic aircraft. The décor was being prepared during the day, with guests of around 60 starting to arrive at 6 pm. Everybody was seated by 07h00 and Race Master David le Roux opened the proceedings with thanks to all the helpers, officials and the Springs Flying Club for hosting this event. The main Season Sponsor Holborn Assets gave a short brief on their business, and also drew the lucky winner of their money jar. David also advised about planning being done for 2023’s fixtures that would be concluded within the next week. David also recognized Rob Jonkers as the previous competition director for all the work carried out on Speed Rallies since inception to create the foundation on which the future of the sport can be built. It is now more relevant than ever to bring in new competitors to enjoy the sport.

With the main course enjoyed by all, it was time for prize giving, firstly the placings for the Springs event, where first place went to Leon Joubert & Jonty Esser in their Lanceair ZU-LNC, second place went to Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK and in third place Sean Cronin and Roger Ford in their Jabiru ZU-JBJ.

The overall season placings went to father & son team of Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Piper 235 ZS-FVV, in second place Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY and in third place Leon Joubert & Jonty Esser (also Sandi Goddard) in their Lanceair ZU-LNC. In fact the season standings had the top 3 placed identically in the Handicap and Accuracy categories as well.

The formal proceedings were closed off with Leon Joubert and his band WASP to get everybody into the mood for party time and good music from a bygone era.


Many Thanks to all the officials who put in the effort to make the Speed rally what it has become, David le Roux as the Race Master, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Iaan Myburg as Competition Director and scorer, Sean Cronin & Martin Meyer doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane for Century Avionics for GPS & Fuel Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw & Anthea Cronin on Scrutineering. ATC from the Special Air Events team are always on hand to support our events. Anneke Pretorius put together a fantastic gala dinner spread with all the décor and trimmings fitting for a black tie event. Thanks also extended to the team at Springs, Raymond Ayre, who graciously supported the officials in their hangar and Gavin Brown for the use of the Classic Wings hangar for the gala dinner.

Without sponsors these type of events would not be possible, thanks to Holborn Assets, Prompt Roofing, Beegle Tracking, Gemair Maintenance, Century Avionics, 4 Track Mover

An almost perfect track – with a minor excursion at turnpoint 10

A very wobbly start on leg 1, with good recovery after turnpoint 2



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 Practical Training Camp – 22 Feb 2020

SAPFA Rally Practical Training Camp – Brakpan 22 February 2020 – by Rob Jonkers

After learning the theoretical side of Navigation plotting at the training camp held at Aerosud on the 18th of January, it was time to put into practice what was learned with a practical flight. The SAPFA national coach Jonty Esser put together a short route in the Brakpan Heidelberg area with 4 turnpoints to be flown by participating teams.

The weather however did not play ball at all, restricting participants to arrive by air, however many decided to drive in, to at least do some ground school. At the end there were 9 teams that participated. On hand from the SAPFA Protea members were Jonty Esser, Frank Eckard, Sandi Goddard and Rob Jonkers imparting their knowledge to the teams.

The theme of the morning was to gain knowledge on practical flying, how to accurately bingo each turn point in time, how to approach the start, this always being the most difficult part of any rally, firstly to find it, and then to get there at the start time. Then the dynamics of keeping on time on each leg, approaching the next turn point and identifying the photo being correct or incorrect. First up was Frank Eckard who explained all the required strategies of flying, explaining that you have to be in the right frame of mind to take part in this sport, extreme focus and concentration will get one to the winning post.

Frank Eckard – Strategies of Flying a Rally

Thereafter Jonty provided an outline to the planned flight route for the day – which could not be flown, but an explanation of how to set up the aircraft to fly the route, to get to the nominated 1000 ft altitude, set the flaps and power setting, then to adjust timing by changing the aircraft’s attitude to speed up or slow down, rather than utilize power changes as power changes disturb the fundamental speed set up.

Jonty Esser – How to set up your aircraft in flight

After Jonty, Rob showed a short video of a practical flight demonstrating what photos look like on the ground and the visual angles and distances to be able to recognize them, and from what altitude these would be best visible.

A practical out of the cockpit view of en-route photo recognition

After a short break, it was decided to carry out a real plotting exercise of the Rand Rally Challenge against the clock with a 30 minute deadline, essentially 2 minutes per plotting point. It gave everybody an incentive to attempt to beat the clock. With new teams this proved daunting, thus more focus was provided on techniques of using the tools and developing the skills to use them.

Clarissa & Kerry busy with their plot

Clarissa & Kerry busy with their plot

Milan, Caroline & Andy busy with their plots

Karyn & Leon happy they have aced their plot in the allotted time

The Track shown of Route 2 – an anti-clockwise route

Middelburg Speed Rally 2019

The Pilot Insure Middelburg Navigation Speed Rally – 9 March 2019 by Rob Jonkers

The South African Power Flying Association held a very successful Speed Rally at the Aero Club Airweek 2019 at Middelburg. Originally scheduled as an Adventure Rally as was held in 2018, SAPFA decided to change this to a Speed Rally given the popularity of the event, with this one being the 4th in the series.

Within days of the announcement, the first 28 places were snapped up by competitors having taken part in the previous events, not leaving any room for new entrants, and it was decided to extend the field from the original maximum of 30 to 35, with an opportunity for the local Middelburg club members to take part. This event is one that is flown at full speed under handicap conditions, the course is around 120 nm long, has 11 or so turning points, with each turning point identified with a correct photograph.

Planning got underway in February to prepare the route, keeping in mind that with the Airweek as an event and an Airshow to coordinate with, in terms of take-off and landing slots of other arrivals and departures made the details challenging to plan. The route was kept to the north and east of the airfield, as most inbound and outbound traffic would be from the west.

Friday saw a fairly full day of test flights with some repeat test flights to reconfirm handicaps, with conditions mostly favourable although the cloud base was low in the morning. After the Safety Aviator Presentations which started just after 2 pm, Mary de Klerk had arranged to hold a training session on how to fly a Speed Rally, which was very well attended, and included a practical map preparation session on an example map, sharing the tips and tricks of how to follow the map features and timing points.

Thereafter at 6h30, Jonty Esser as the Race Master introduced 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 also how the scoring system would world work with expected weather conditions, which looked as if it would be good.

Then all the competitors were treated to a briefing on Steroids on Friday night with the Speed Rally Race Master Jonty Esser having set up a show for the teams, with a real life lights, camera, action sequence, where each team were introduced with their team theme song, handed their race numbers. Jonty also introduced the teams to the Speed Rally website where a Speed Rally ranking system was created, with team profiles and their leaderboard position.

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Briefing on Steroids – race numbers being handed out

The evening ended with a braai hosted by the Middelburg Aero Club, before retiring for the night, some were camping under the wing or in Neil Bowden’s tent area. Saturday morning saw low cloud and some fog, although it started to lift and clear fairly soon, giving a go ahead to start the rally.

The briefing started at 8h30, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather. With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, with marshals assisting in parking sequence, while the organisers got the papers ready. Each team would then receive an envelope with a map, turnpoint photos, a minute marker and a GPS logger to record their track. Aircraft were then also scrutineered with all portable electronic devices sealed up in bags, and although no onboard systems were disabled, it relied on an honour code to not utilise onboard GPS as a Navigation aid, however the course is designed as such that GPS would be of minimal benefit.

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The Rally line up getting ready to start

The intent is that everybody uses the basic skills of navigation plotting and flying, and operate as a team in terms of cockpit workload, and with the course layout with short legs it for sure makes the crew resource work sharing all the more important. The idea would be that each crew would receive a pre-plotted map already complete with the route, turning points, headings, altitudes, where the map would not have any lat/long or grid references. This would be provided 20 minutes prior take-off to allow route orientation and the plotting of minute markers.

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The skopgat team of Von Hamman & Ron Stirk in their C150 ZS-IWD

In this format, there are two objectives, fly against a pre-determined handicap speed for each aircraft, and fly the shortest route around the course which would consist of a minimum of 10 turning points, and any aircraft would be able to compete, from slower LSA aircraft to the fast turbo singles or twins. The idea would be to test the speed capability and navigation skills of each crew against each other, where the most accurate flying and turn performance management would win the rally.

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Father & Sone team of Hendrik & Jandre Loots

Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle, Charlene, Jean, Conrad, Frans and David were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices, and also handing out papers at the allotted time, and also checking the fuel tanks were full. To assist the teams at getting their take-off roll accurate, a starting colour panel was used, which was set up next to the start line on the runway by Chief Marshal Hans Potgieter and Mark Clulow, which would release them at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers at their 20 minutes prior take-off time, and then taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of take-off time. 1st take-off was at 09h55 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 10h50, with planned arrival at 11h30, the fast Cirrus ZS-ACA only needing 40 minutes to complete the course.

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Scrutineering the team of Piet Meyer & Adrienne Visser in their Jabiru ZU-DUU

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With all the competitors off towards the north, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints to contend with to give competitors a chance to always be aware of where they were, but some turnpoints were a challenge find, especially if the colour of the surrounding ground features had changes since the photos were taken. Although Turnpoint 2 was essentially along the road going past the airfield, it was still difficult to find apparently given how many were searching for it. Quite a few competitors cut the corners on turnpoints including Phil & Mary who during her training session warned everybody to “go round the TP”.

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Chief Marshall Hans Potgieter at the Starting Point

After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, and with the new loggers were able to complete the scores by 1 pm, and everybody were given their score sheets. Prize giving would only be in the evening so the teams and officials could enjoy the Airshow for the afternoon.

With everybody settling in for the VIP dinner hosted by the Middelburg Aero Club, and opening speeches and starters enjoyed by the guests, the prize giving was coordinated by Jonty Esser acting as the MC for this time slot, with firstly aircraft judging certificates handed out by EAA’s Sean Cronin, and thereafter a showing of a number of interesting flight tracks given by Rob Jonkers, which for this rally turned out overall to be very good, with only one competitor having had some navigation trouble, and for sure the overall standard is improving, with all aircraft over the line within 7 minutes. As the teams were visible approaching the field, first in view was Jonty Esser in the slowest aircraft a Foxbat being chased down by Phil Wakeley in a C210, who crossed the line within 8 seconds of each other. Some other interesting facts were that the full field also completed the course with an average of 7 nm overflown and the best performance against handicap time was 25 seconds.

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After this the Speed Rally promo video was shown, and then the prize giving, which was hosted by Frans Smit from Pilot Insure who was this Speed Rally’s main sponsor. First a Hard Luck certificate was handed out to Jaco Goosen whose C182 fell into a subterranean aardvark tunnel and damaged the horizontal stabilizer, then Jonty handed over the Club Trophy to Richardt Lovett and the Middelburg team.

The overall winners in the best handicap speed were the team of Jonty Esser and Jonathan Esser in a Foxbat ZU-DYE, in second place was Arthur de Kock and Freddie van Rooyen in their Jabiru J430 ZU-MEL, and in third place Hendrik Loots and Jandre Loots in their Sling 2 ZU-IHK. The first fourteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.

The winners in the accuracy category were the team of David Ross and James Braid in their Sling 2 ZU-JAR, in second place was Johan van Eeden and Cor Esterhuizen in their RV7 ZU-IHH, and in third place the skopgat team of Ron Stirk and Von Hamman in their C150 ZS-IWD.

Many thanks to the Middelburg Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Hans Potgieter with the ground marshals, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos and Mark Clulow doing the scoring with our handicapping guru Chester Chandler, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger handing out competition papers to the crews, Jonty & Lizelle for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event. Also thanks to Mary de Klerk for the time made available to do the training course held on Friday, it for sure helped the teams to gain an understanding of what to expect.

Also to the sponsors Pilot Insure, who was the main sponsor of the event, Flightline Weekly for sponsoring the race numbers, also to Pilot’s Post for sponsoring the team of Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk, and provided three key reasons for this, the first one being that the Speed Rally as a brand is seen as the future of competitive flying, second being that the Speed Rally brand will add value to our brand, third being that they believe that Phil and Mary are the perfect ambassadors for Pilot’s Post and they will carry our flag high.

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The next speed rally is in Bethlehem on the 8th June 2019

The winning track – ZU-DYE

Having a bad day, but not bad considering the good recovery – ZU-LAX


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