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A wet and cold PTAR 2022

A wet and cold PTAR 2022 at New Tempe Bloemfontein – By Rob Jonkers

This year’s Presidents Trophy Air Race was held at New Tempe Bloemfontein, and traditionally held on the last weekend of May, but with the advent of the Botswana Air Show also taking place on the same weekend it was decided to move it a week earlier, which if we all had the perfect hindsight, with that event not happening, we could have held it on its traditional date, and subsequently avoiding this last few days of most unseasonal weather that befell the race weekend.

This year for sure has had many of the planned aviation events disrupted by wet, cold, windy weather systems, the most bandied about term of “cut-off low” being used to describe the weather situation. This weekend no less had a very large cold front coupled with an intense low-pressure system over the centre of the country affect the plans to race.

I arrived on Wednesday in excellent weather conditions and started setting up for the race, mostly the race control room and preparing for test flights, some of the early competitors also started to arrive at the field. Thursday saw all the aircraft arrive, some of the Cape based teams first had to wait for the front to pass before setting off, arriving just before dark. Most of the day was taken up by flight tests and registration and watching what the weather would be doing for the next day as the front was approaching.

During the first extensive Thursday afternoon briefing which also included the SA weather services team being on hand to give us the best outlook it appeared that there may be an early morning flyable gap, thus the day was planned with an early 7h30 start. As Friday dawned, it looked promising, cloud base was at a reasonable 1000 ft, and we proceeding briefing and sent the turnpoint marshals to their locations, this being particularly important to get weather condition updates from them at the furthest corners of the route.

As the morning progressed with a planned 10 am first take-off, the news from the turnpoints were not good, and then light rain started, it was then decided to scrub Day 1 with a debrief at 11 am to plan for the next day. The prediction for Saturday would be that the weather would improve from midday onwards. Everybody dispersed for some rest for the rest of the day.

Saturday dawned with flyable conditions, and in fact the window opened up from 11 onwards, thus at briefing the first take-off was planned for 11. The turnpoint marshals were sent out, who from the previous day’s rain had challenges of negotiating almost impassable roads to get to their intersections, fortunately they all sent in confirmation of being in position prior the first take-off.

This year’s field attracted 37 entries, which is very low by PTAR standards, which would normally have 60+ competitors, this year for sure the cost impact would have been affecting most would be competitors, given the fuel price virtually double that of last year at the same time. Three competitors had to withdraw mostly due to not being able to get to the event on time, thus we had 34 starters.

With the airfield being water logged, we decided not to move the aircraft from where they were parked, and carried out scrutineering in-situ and changed the papers time with a few additional minutes for the crews to collect their maps and route envelopes, which worked out well. The ground marshals were also very efficient in getting the start order taxying out at their allocated time. With the race under way, and having a cross over route, we could all watch how the order of the aircraft would be coming back over the field which was at around one third race distance.

Although the traditional race finish would be at 1PM, and given the weather window having a later than normal start, the finish was planned at 13h45, and as the time got closer to finish, the weather was threatening to deteriorate, with sudden cold and dark clouds forming just east of the field, which fortunately stayed away. The line finishers were close between Race 2 Bosbok, Race 14 Piper Commanche, Race 45 Harvard. With spacing between aircraft at the start being required to keep a safe distance, the finish order became Race 45 Harvard ZS-WSE, Race 9 RV-7 ZU-VZJ, Race 14 Piper Commanche ZS-NXG, who were the handicap winners.

Prize-giving was held at the Windmill Casino, which had laid out an excellent banquet hall for all the teams, club members and officials to enjoy. The evening started with a short debrief of the race, some of the best and “interesting” tracks being shown. Race 19 had a “long” day having lost their way at turnpoint 1 continuing northwest for 20 nm, before realising their error, they had the presence of mind to return to that first turnpoint, and continue from there to fly a good race further, only picking up one penalty, but of course adding almost 40 minutes to their time.

After the main meal, David le Roux the Race Master started the proceedings for the rest of the evening, first up Franz Smit who introduced and thanked all the sponsors supporting the race, Pilot Insure, Holborn Assets, Aircraft Finance Corporation, DJA Aviation, Century Avionics, and all the local Bloemfontein sponsors, Leon Bouttell was up next as the SAPFA Chairman, and at this point announced that Rob Jonkers would be standing down as Race Director, the baton being handed over to Iaan Myburgh.

Rob took to the stage thanking all for their support since 2018 when the Race was handed to him, at the same time an evolution of the format having been developed to today’s standard of a 10 turnpoint race limited to 300 nm, with an accuracy component added as well. There is still much discussion about this race format and its merits compared to the traditional 4 corner race, and this will be for the next Race team to work together with the racers for their input. Just as Formula 1 evolves with technology improvements, so must the PTAR evolve to take into consideration changes in technologies utilised, such as GPS based heading reference devices, different engine types that have variable power settings, these all affect the handicap speeds and course accuracy.

Rob went on to thank all those involved in the race organisation, particularly the Bloemfontein Flying Club under the key organiser Andre Grobler and experienced PTAR event coordinator, who had provided the ground marshals, turn-point marshals, and all the catering at the airfield. Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer with the ATNS team of Ricardo Afonso, SA Weather Services, ARCC, Bloemfontein Emergency Services team of Braam van Zyl, the CAA Special Air Events team, the local Municipality & SAPS.

After this the long awaited Prize Giving was held, with 24 trophy categories being handed out, up until the top 3 places, with third place going to Race 9 RV-7 ZU-VZJ with crew of Johan van Zyl & Eric Addison, second place going to Race 45 Harvard ZS-WSE with a crew of John Sayers & Dion Raath, and the PTAR trophy going to Race 14 Piper Commanche ZS-NXG crewed by Stefan Lombard and Martiens Marais.

After this the PTAR flag was handed over from BFC Chair Deon Loots to Jock Nel the Chairman of the Middelburg Aero Club as the 2023 PTAR event location. Thanks go to everybody who makes this event a success, especially the volunteers who take time out to assist, also the media who are key to promoting the PTAR.

 

Click on the photos below (By Rob Jonkers)

The Witbank Speed Navigation Rally

 26 March 2022 by Rob Jonkers

This first of the 4th Season Speed Rallies for 2022 has been held at Witbank, organised by SAPFA and hosted by the Witbank Aeronautical Association. This is the 3rd event held at Witbank in the series, which also had to be postponed due to weather issues on the original date of 5th March, the weather forecasting being fickle at best, but looked eventually flyable on the 5th, and as Competition Director you are damned for making those weather related calls…. one way or the other, especially up here on the reef where weather changeability is so prevalent within hours.

With the change of date also saw some competitors having to withdraw and at least others could join. Similarly we had officials planned that also had to drop out, but the WAA stepped up with an additional ground support team to help out, with the end result we had a fun & safe event.

There were 20 entries, but with the early morning weather situation on the highveld, many attempted to get to Witbank, but had to turn back or could not take-off, reducing the field to 15. Only two competitors had arrived on Friday before significant thundershowers made their appearance.

The traditional Friday evening briefing was cancelled, so the full briefing was then planned for Saturday morning, where after the club provided a nice Friday dinner spread and for the teams, officials and club members, 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 around 6000 ft, with light and variable wind. The briefing was delayed to 9h30 am and was concluded at around 10 am, 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 one with a cross over to the east of the field, with the first series of legs to the north-west, and the 2nd series of legs to the north-east.

1st take-off was planned at 11h20, and arrivals at 12h45. 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 dust road intersection from amongst the same colour surroundings, from the results this turn point seems to have been difficult to home onto. There were two groups coming over the line, those that were a bit early as they had got waylaid along the course and a group that were accurate with their navigating skills getting over the line close to their handicap times.

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. As everybody essentially left for home, it was left to the scoring team to complete their work off line, and hold a virtual prize giving as done at previous events, which was done at 8 PM.

For the Navigation Accuracy category, third place went to Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, in 2nd place Apie & Frederick Kotzee in their Robinson R66 ZS-HRS, and in 1st place Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK.

For the Handicap/Speed category, third place went to Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, in 2nd place Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK and in 1st place Apie & Frederick Kotzee in their Robinson R66 ZS-HRS.

Overall Winners in third place went to Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, in 2nd place Apie & Frederick Kotzee in their Robinson R66 ZS-HRS, and in 1st place Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK.

 

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, Iaan Myburgh doing the scoring, as well as taking up the Deputy Event Director role, Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Martin Meyer & Hans Schwebel for doing Starting. Thanks also extended to ATNS for supporting ATC for this event..

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Also thanks to our sponsors, who sponsored our sponsored teams, Prompt Roofing, Beagle Tracking, Gem Air and Aviation Direct.

Our next Speed Rally event will be in Kroonstad on the 25th June 2022

 

 

Nice perfect Track

Oops – Turned a bit early on most of the turnpoints

Click on photo below to enlarge

The SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally

The SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally – 28 August 2021 by Rob Jonkers

This year we have returned again to the birth place of the Speed Rally, being the 4th time this event has been held here, with 2018 the start of Season 1, and from 2020 having re-aligned the Speed Rallies to calendar year seasons, with this event being the 3rd event in Season 3, with the final event for Season 3 being at Springs on 27 Nov 2021.

With lockdown still at level 3, we limited the entries to 25 teams, and 22 had entered by the time the event entries closed on Friday 27th August. Our host club with Chairman Ashvir Kallis and Vice Chairman Lourence Mathee went all out to support the event, making the club facilities available and a braai for the Friday evening. The Aviation Junction flight school made their school facilities available for the scoring and officials team.

The weather outlook was looking challenging as the weekend was approaching, many warnings of severe cold and high winds predicted from a substantial cold front, and at dawn on Friday much low cloud and rain squalls made their appearance across Gauteng, which cleared later but with increasing gusty wind conditions. Having left Kitty Hawk at 10 am, caught a 30 kt tailwind to Secunda and had to deal with a 15 kt crosswind on landing. Around half the field chose rather to arrive early on Saturday, with some test flights also delayed to Saturday morning. The test flights were ably handled by Mauritz du Plessis and Iaan Myburg, with Iaan also taking up the role of scorer for this event having developed new scoring software.

At 18h30, Jonty Esser as the MC and 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 and the expected weather conditions. This year’s route would include a cross-over, which would bring more spectator interaction as the aircraft came over the field at the half way mark.

Jonty Esser then took to the stage in his signature competing crew introductory theme song videos and race number handouts, and also including introductions to the team sponsors, which has picked up this year after a disastrous 2020, and great to see the sponsors returning to support their teams. A scrumptious braai was laid on by the club to end the evening with around the fire stories on a high note.

For Saturday the briefing started at 8h00, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather, which at least had improved wind conditions from the Friday, starting out at 10 kts with a maximum of 15 kts predicted in a westerly direction, which would at least be favourable for runway 29. Some line squalls were also in the area, with the cloud base at least more than 1000 ft, with good visibility.

With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, 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. For this event Mark & Shane from Century Avionics were on hand to also block off / seal Aircraft GPS and autopilot systems, and also checking the fuel tanks were full.

The Pilot Insure Scrutineer Team were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices, with the papers team under guidance of Lizelle handing out papers at the allotted time, Chief Marshall Adrian Cronje and Starters Mauritz & Chareen set up at the starting line adjacent the threshold of Runway 29, who would release each aircraft at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers at 20 minutes prior take-off time, taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of brake release. 1st take-off was at 10h20 for the slowest aircraft which was a Magni Gyrocopter (the first time a gyro has taken part) and last take-off at 11h10, with planned arrival at 12h00.

With all the competitors off towards the south west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints. In general the competitors found the course easy enough. At just before 12h00, the first aircraft over the line was a little early, and then followed by at least three quarters of the field within 1 minute, with tail enders after that.

After all teams having returned, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, completing the individual scores by 14h00, with prize giving planned for at 15:00. In the meantime, most of the competitors being concerned over deteriorating weather decided to return to their home bases, thus a call was made at 14h30 to rather hold a virtual prize giving, which Race Master Jonty carried out at 5 PM on the WhatsApp platform. MC Jonty Esser thanked everybody in the Speed Rally series for their contributions.

The winners in the handicap category were Deidre Batchelor & Dave Naude in their Jabiru ZU-EBU, in second place Mike Blackburn & Steve Briggs in a Sling ZU-IBM and in third place the Evans Racing team Jonty & Jonathan Esser in their C150 ZU-BLL. The first thirteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.

The winners in the accuracy category were the Gem air sponsored team of Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY, in second place Fanie Scholtz & Herman Haasbroek in their Sling ZU-FZF, and in third place Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer in their Evektor Harmony ZU-FWS..

Overall Standings are in first place father and son Apie & Frederik Kotzee, in second place another father and son Johan Whiteman & Quintin Kruger in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, and in third place another father & son team of Hendrik & Jandre Loots flying their Sling ZU-IHK. This is the first time the first 3 overall placed teams are all father and sons.

Many thanks to the Secunda Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Adrian Cronje as the Chief Marshall, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Iaan & Tarryn Myburg doing the scoring, Mauritz du Plessis doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw as the Event Secretary, Lizelle Kruger, Clarissa Dacostaesilva, Ariana Rompel, Leonie du Plessis for handing out competition papers to the crews, the Pilot Insure team under David le Roux for Scrutineering, Jonty & Lizelle & Sandi for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event, and Anneke Pretorius for looking after officials lunches. Santjie & Jean Marie White were also on hand to ensure all aircraft are accounted for during and post the event.

ZS-CNY – third in the accuracy results

 

One of the tracks having gone a little pear shaped.

2021 Middelburg Speed Rally

The Aircraft Unlimited Middelburg Speed Navigation Rally – 27 April 2021 by Rob Jonkers

The South African Power Flying Association held a very successful Speed Rally at the Aero Club Centenary Airweek at Middelburg, and is our 2nd event in the third season. It was decided to hold this Speed Rally on Freedom day as the date of choice in keeping with the Centenary celebrations of the Aero Club that featured most of the Recreational Aviation Sections over the four days. Monday turned out to be a relatively quiet day, where we could have rather rescheduled the rally, but was too late to make any changes.

There were 20 racers that entered, some stalwarts could not join due to other long weekend commitments, giving us as organisers a cue that we need to be very choosy to pick dates that are not in conflict with other activities. The weather outlook look to be virtually pristine, with little wind, thus could not have wished for better.

With some arrivals on Monday, we had Mauritz carry out a number of test flights to establish a handicap speed, as there were a number of new entrants, who in fact had joined to be able to practice for the up and coming PTAR. The afternoon initial briefing started at 18h30, 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 caterer provided a nice dinner spread, before retiring for the evening.

Tuesday morning dawned with beautiful weather, the hot air balloons were up and about traversing the field taking advantage of the wind currents. 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 in a similar area as the previous Witbank event north of Loskop dam, although part of the route went closer to the eastern hills before returning to cross the 20/20 gravel runway.

With all the competitors off towards the northwest, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints, especially TP10 which was the last turn point before the home run – which by the way was the same last turn point used in the 2019 event. The finish was relatively close, only one competitor having got lost somewhat, one having great difficulty in keeping track, and three aircraft following each other having all mad the same mistake…. Will teach them not to follow the aircraft in front.

After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results. This time there were no major scoring issues, and the results were available for the prize giving at 2PM. The prizes are organised into 3 categories, Overall, Handicap, Accuracy, where teams that have featured in the top three in one category, don’t feature in the other categories, ensuring that all have a fair chance at winning a trophy. These scores are also added to the leader board in this manner. The following table shows the top placings.

The following are the individual handicap and accuracy results.

Many thanks to the Middelburg Aero Club 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 Avionic Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw for Aircraft Scrutineering, Liz, Clarissa, Leonie, Louna for handing out competition papers to the crews, Mauritz for Test Flights and starting, Bernhard & Adrian as ground marshalls and starting, we for sure had a stronger crew as compared to Witbank earlier this year. 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 Secunda on the 28th of August 2021

Click on a photo below to enlarge

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

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 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

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

World Rally Flying Championships Training Session

World Rally Flying Championships Training session – Stellenbosch airfield (By Mary de Klerk – Photos Mary de Klerk & Rob Jonkers) 30th Oct – 2 Nov 2019

South Africa and the South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) has won the bid to host the 2020 World Rally Flying Championships where Stellenbosch Airfield in the Western Cape has been selected as the Airfield of choice.

SAPFA has previously hosted:

1991 – 7th World Rally Flying Championships– Stellenbosch Airfield

2003 – 13th World Rally Flying Championships– Pilanesberg Airfield

2011 – 20th World Precision Flying Championships – Brits Airfield

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The picturesque Stellenbosch Airfield

In 2020, the Aero Club of South Africa and the South African Power Flying Association will be celebrating their 100th Centenary Birthday. This World Championship competition will be an integral part of our celebrations.

The Programme:
7th to 14th Nov 2020 Unofficial practice
15th to 21st Nov 2020 World Rally Flying Championships
22nd to 25TH Nov 2020 General Aviation Committee (GAC) Annual meeting

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The teams participating on Competition Day

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Competition Director Colin Jordaan – briefing the teams

The sport of Rally Flying is aimed to improve fundamental flying skills to enable a team (Rally Crew of 2) to navigate and handle their aircraft under Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) as independent of technical subsystems as possible. Thus Rally Flying enhances flying safety. This overall aim for Rally Flying is achieved by:

  1. Emphasizing the ability to navigate by following a set of route instructions, using basic equipment
  2. Emphasizing the ability to follow a precise track while adhering closely to a timing test (punctuality test)
  3. Emphasizing the ability to perform realistic observation tasks while navigating the aircraft on a timing test (observation test)
  4. Emphasizing the ability to handle the aircraft on short and narrow landing strips (landing test)

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Flying the Mountain practice route – up through Bains Kloof Pass

The above tasks would demonstrate the team’s ability to perform accurately and safely. Penalties are awarded for each error incurred and the team with the lowest penalties over all competition days is ultimately the winner. The winning country is selected from the top 2 team scores from each country.

The competition map is a topographical map to the scale of 1:200 000. The routes will be set by the expert Protea Team of Frank and Cally Eckard and will be planned in the Special Rules Area, under the TMA, so maximum heights are restricted to 2000 ft AGL in the flat areas and 4000 AGL in the mountainous areas. The routes will nominally be set to the north, east and south east of the Stellenbosch Airfield.

Up to 80 Teams from the following countries are expected to participate from the following countries:

Austria China Czech Republic France
Germany Hngary Italy Lithuania
Luxembourg New Zealand Norway Poland
Russia South Africa Spain Switzerland
United Kingdom

Each Country will also bring additional crew in the form of International Judges, Team Managers, Judge Observers, Engineers, Supporters and Families.

In total we are expecting in excess of 300 of the “crème de la crème” of international aviators and their families to visit South Africa.

In preparation for the World Championships in 2020, SAPFA decided to hold a “mini training session” in Stellenbosch from 30th Oct – 2nd Nov 2019. The objective was to bring all parties together in order to execute a ‘Mock Event’ utilising all available services in order to iron out any potential wrinkles ahead of the main event in 2020.

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Poland’s Michal Wieczorek preparing for a practice route with Mary de Klerk

An enormous amount of work went into the preparation for this event. The SAPFA and WRFC Committees meet monthly and have worked tirelessly to ensure that the following sections were adequately covered:

  1. Aircraft Hire and Insurance – Mostly C152s and C172s were flown in from various surrounding airfields – a huge logistical task excellently handled by Chareen Shillaw
  2. Licence Validations – This took many hours of work and CAA meetings to finally arrive at a smooth operation – outstandingly arranged by Frank Eckard, Rob Jonkers and Marko Nel.
  3. Stellenbosch Hospitality – Magnificently hosted by Anton Theart, Frank Olsen and the incredible teams running the newly renovated Stellenbosch Flying Club.
  4. ATNS and Safety Planning – Professional approach by Rikus Erasmus, Nigel Musgrave and ATNS (with Santjie White and her team always ready in the wings)
  5. Route Planning – World Class Routes planned by Cally and Frank Eckard showcasing some of the most breathtakingly stunning scenery in the world over the mountains, the sea, and the wine farms of the Western Cape.
  6. Judging took place under the auspices of our well-seasoned international judges Jacques Jacobs, Ursula Schwebel and all their helpers.
  7. Colin Jordaan (ex SAA / CAA), well versed in the art of Precision and Rally flying took up the mantle of Competition Director with ease.

The opportunity to practice in Stellenbosch was snapped up by the French, Polish, Swiss and Austrian international teams. The South African teams including current and potential Protea members also participated. An interesting mix of 2 united teams from different countries also took part. Michal Wieczorek from Poland flew with Mary de Klerk from South Africa and Mauritz du Plessis flew with Nicola from France.

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Theewaterskloof Dam

Some teams arrived a few days early to take advantage of some tourism opportunities. The plan was to run open practice days from Wed – Friday and then the competition on Saturday 2nd Nov. However no one anticipated SA getting into the World Cup Rugby Finals so the plan was changed to accommodate this event. The Competition was flown on Friday 1st to allow all participants to watch the game live in the various SFC hosting restaurant facilities…… a truly memorable event!!!! Training then resumed after the match on Saturday 2nd Nov.

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Steep climb angle to fly over the Maanskynkop

The competition route on Friday was a route to the south east of Stellenbosch, with high overcast weather predicted with strong upper winds of up to 20 kts. The route took the teams just south of Sir Lowry’s Pass, remaining in the high ground and mountain areas until a steep descent to the coast to Voelklip, then along the coast all the way past Hermanus, with whales visible just off the river mouth in Walkerbay. From there the surprise steep climb up Maanskynkop, everybody having to snake their way over the top, and then into the Caledon valley up to the Theewaterskloof dam, and then back over the ridge of the Hotentots-Holland mountains to find the sharp bend in the railway line that goes up Sir Lowry’s pass, then to the finish point through Kleinnek which is just abeam the Helderberg. This was a very scenic route, as the whole Cape is, with many of the competitors being distracted from flying the route rather enjoying the scenery….

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Coming up to Kleinnek passing the Helderberg on the left

The French Team are well supported by their French Sporting Federation and therefore have to stick strictly to the Team Managers rules for training with little ‘free time’ to play. This discipline showed up in their final results with all 6 French Teams finishing in the top 10 positions.

The final results for all competitors were:

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Third placed Alexis Fuchs and Adele Schramm with Colin Jordaan

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Second Placed Michal Wieczorek and Mary de Klerk

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First placed Olivier Riviere and Jerome Jireau with Colin Jordaan & Frank Eckard

The South African Rally Flying National Championships will take place at the Stellenbosch Flying Club from 2-4 April 2020. The final Protea Team to represent South Africa at the World Championships will be selected at this event. Ideally SAPFA are hoping to select an “A” team and a “B” team to give some newbies the opportunity to experience a real World Championships Event. Jonty Esser has been appointed as Chief Protea Team Coach and will be publishing a training schedule soon.

Thanks to African Pilot we have a great website to capture all events, pictures, information, results live tracking etc http://www.worldrallyflyingchampionship2020.com/

Thanks also to DJ Aviation for their contribution in supporting excess insurance on the hire aircraft that were made available for the international teams.

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We are now investigating all avenues for financial and service support to ensure that we can deliver a world class event in 2020. Any further information and be mailed to info@wrfc2020.com

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The French Team

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Celebrating Rally Veteran Ron Stirk’s 70th Birthday on 1st Nov 2019

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.

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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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