The 16th Rand Airport Challenge 2020

By Cally Eckard

With the World Rally Flying Championships in sight, a record 8 teams took part in the Class 1, or “Open” category of the sport at the Rand Airport Challenge.  In previous years most participants preferred to stick to the simplest and easiest Class 3, or “Fun Rally”, but this year pilots and navigators were encouraged to enter the most advanced group. 

They all certainly found their skills were challenged on this first rally of the year. Mary de Klerk and Rob Jonkers presented a Navigation workshop the previous week, so everyone was keen to exercise their new-found knowledge in this rally.    

Route Planner Cally Eckard gave the teams the task of flying two back-to-back arcs, which are curved tracks between two turn-points, and a follow-the-feature, where they had to fly along a road.  All navigators plotted the arc perfectly, and the pilots flew them accurately, and really enjoyed the challenge. 

Sadly, drizzle and low cloud kept some of the entrants grounded at their home airfields, but for local pilots the skies cleared early enough for them to fly through just in time for the briefing by Competition Director Frank Eckard, so there was no delay in the start time for the rally.  The sky continued to clear during the course of the morning, but strong winds challenged the pilots on some of the legs, making it difficult for them to maintain their allocated speeds.  

Use of Google photos which were taken in mid-winter were also difficult to match up to the current terrain after soaking summer rains which have coloured the landscape a lush green.

The route took them west from Rand Airport, over Soweto, with the Start Point the train station at Nasrec, then the two arc between Carletonville and Fochville, skirting north of Vanderbijlpark, before turning northwards for the return journey over Ennerdale to a tricky Finish Point which was the “Stirrup Club”.

Although none of the results were of National Standard, there are many rallies and training opportunites between now and the World Champs, and we hope to put together five “A” team and five “B” team partnerships to give SA the best chance of a good team result. 

The Rand Airport Trophy, donated by Rand Airport, was won by seasoned rallyers Jonty Esser (pilot) and Mary de Klerk (navigator).  

The full results are:

Class 3 (The Fun Rally section):

1Michael CrauseEdzart VerseputSling 41161

Class 2 (The Intermediate Section):

1Thys van der MerweKerry MatthysenC172392

Class 1 (The Unlimited or Open Section):

1Jonty EsserMary de KlerkC150 C 798
2Antony RussellPam RussellC1721060
3Andre KluytsDon LucasC 1721709
4Leon BouttellKaryn PurchaseHarmony1850
5Quentin TaylorDerick BirdSuper Decathlon1914
6Shane BritzKaren StroudJabiru2121
7Hendrik LootsJandre LootsSling LSA2366
8Milan DanizCaroline KollTC07 Sling 4No result

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of this sport, and are all very motivated to take part in the next rally events:

  • 7  March – Brakpan Rally (Classes 1, 2 and 3)
  • 3 – 5 April – Rally Nationals in Stellenbosch (Class 1 only)
  • 5  April – Stellenbosch Rally (Classes 1, 2 and 3) 
  • 8  August – Rally Training Camp in Brits (Class 1) 
  • 22 August – Krugersdorp Rally (Classes 1, 2 and 3)
  • 3 October – Witbank Rally (Classes 1, 2 and 3)

Look out also for our very exciting Speed Rallies.  

Please see our website for our events calendar

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