Nationals 2022 held at Wings Park, East London.
All I can say is WOW! What a great event!
I spent the last few months agonizing over how to handle the decisions involved in hosting the nationals; should we postpone, should we push through, what if it is a total disaster in terms of attendance, etc. Exhausting! Anyway, consensus was reached and thankfully we decided to hold nationals regardless!
Most of us wanted to arrive on Tuesday but the weather was terrible so we decided to leave on Wednesday. I took off from Klerksdorp in freezing weather an hour and a half late as a result of carb icing. I first thought the fuel we put in was off, so we drained it all out and refilled with fresh fuel. On start I realized that it must have been carb icing because the motor ran perfectly. The carb iced up whilst idling with the temp sitting at minus 3 degrees C!
Anyway, I got into the aircraft looking like the proverbial Michelin Man, couldn’t feel anything because of the cold, battled like anything to strap myself in, and off I went. Quick stop at Tempe for fuel and then the long haul for Wings Park. The closer I got to WP, the stronger the wind was becoming and a downwind runway inspection showed the YAK doing 180 knots! Did a teardrop and hovered on to bowling green 27. Eventually I managed to squirm out of the YAK and stumbled over to the clubhouse where I spent a half an hour thawing out in front of a very welcoming fire!
The wind was howling at about 30 knots on the ground and freezing cold. I stood there wondering where all the heat comes from in the summer in the cockpit that leaves me sweating like a Blue Bull supporter at the finals last Saturday.
Practice slots were being braved unsuccessfully in the wind but at least we could get an idea of the much improved sea level performance and box orientation.
Wednesday evening and we were treated to a lovely supper and live entertainment and the usual drinks and kuier.
Thursday weather proved much better and briefing was done and the comp started with the entire field finishing program one before sundown. As usual, our judges were the best, bravely sitting outside exposed to the elements, frozen to the core, just for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Quintin had his hand full as chief judge and scorer but with the help of his fellow judges and Annie had the final scores out in no time.
At 18:00 we started the AGM and this occurred without any problems but lively and enthusiastic discussion over various proposals and rule amendments. The last year’s committee was re-elected with addition of Jason and Patrick as new committee members.
Figure choosing was next and then the usual party time, lovely food and live music again! As usual Gary du Randt knew all the words to all the songs and sang along merrily! I have always wondered whether a couple beers improved one’s ability to remember song lyrics?
By now I am getting used to the 31km drive back to the guest house. One of the WP members, Steve Onion, owns this beautiful guest house, “The White House”, situated right on the beach in Gonubie, with two marvelous sea views!
Friday morning’s wind was a little better but still above limits but promising to ease a little later in the morning. Briefing was held in the usual efficient manner and first flight was at 10:15. The flights were incident free and by 17:30 we were all done. Party time again but this time we had a two piece country and western group to keep the feet tapping. Scores were finalized by about seven. We drew figures for program four having drawn program two and three the previous evening. After being treated to some fine fare and ‘kak praat’ it was off to bed.
I woke up Saturday morning to a fresh breeze which slowly developed into an out of limits blow by eight. Briefings were held every couple of hours and first flight eventually happened at 14:30. There was enough time for all classes to fly but unfortunately the late start put paid to flying program four. The day ended off with a marvelous freestyle flown by Patrick in honour of Sammy.
Sixty two kilometers later and we are back, after a shower and the donning of the appropriate attire, for our gala dinner and prize giving. This was held in the WP wedding venue and is really a classy joint conveniently placed right next to the WP club house. The evening started with snacks and cocktails with all the men looking unusually smart and clean, and the ladies, at their most beautiful.
We were then all seated at exquisitely set tables and treated to a fine evening of excellent dining, fine wines and entertainment. The MC for the evening, Greg Ritz, in his own words, Paddy’s bitch, had us rolling in the isles with his quick wit and soft insults. ( he claims Quintin is Elton John’s double! ). Sorry Greg, but you have been co-opted onto the committee, your portfolio being entertainment manager and media liaison officer. Thank you!
After prize giving it was off to the club house for the after party with live entertainment provided by Jakkie Louw. He had everyone jumping around with his unique style of Afrikaans music. Darren really worried me as I saw him dancing and singing along word for word! I thought he was a rooinek?
As a responsible tea totaller, I left at a decent hour but the party carried on into the wee early hours and was really enjoyed and in some cases, overjoyed, by all!
Some words from participants:
Helm: “I think it was great and it’s a great venue the only shortcoming is the need for an alternative judging position and this is for the pilots, not for the judges. The only other issue I have is that I think we should have a separate space to finish off all the competition stuff, ie, scoring, figure selection, AGM, protests, video viewing etc, free of noise and distractions.”
Oeloe: “The most awesome week of my life! I have never enjoyed so much camaraderie and I learnt volumes in respect of aerobatic flying, all the contestants and organizers were very helpful, the venue was flippin absolutely great full stop! My only negative comment would be the lack of support from our aerobatic community.”
Gary: “In my opinion there was nothing negative at the nationals , it was well organized , I think Annie used the term ‘Gees’ and I don’t think it gets better than that. There was an amazing vibe amongst all the people involved that I have never experienced at any other venue, it was just good all round. I love the runway, very soft on the tyres and smooth. I would go back anytime”
Mitch: “I think it was a fantastic event, everybody was saying, considering the circumstances, it was well attended with good feedback from all. From the WP side it was first big event at the new clubhouse which went down thoroughly well, the community loved it and only had good things to say and we look forward to hosting another comp in the next few years.”
Quintin: ” It was a fantastic well organized event, mainly by the Hosts, WP, despite them not having too much experience in organizing a nationals but they were helped by all. Unfortunately the event was not that well supported by our members but we managed to put it together, the discipline was to a large extent maintained leading to a very successful and safe event, which is the most important thing at the end of the day”.
Patrick: I really enjoyed it! I think the venue, the people, the hospitality was proper, I mean, in my opinion probably one of the best nationals, bar the wind, that we have had in a long time, an awesome contest! The only negative comment I would have is the lack of support from the club members. On the positive side the camaraderie, the good food, the live music all added up to make this a great comp”
After all is said and done, the people that missed out on this nationals , really missed a great event but I am convinced that circumstances played a large role and that things can only get better from now on. I look forward to seeing a resurgence in participation in the future to the point where we need more days to complete a comp.
Thanks once again to Mitch and his team for accommodating the nationals in such a professional and hospitable manner! Thanks to Annie for all the effort you put in, where you get all the energy from, I would love to know?
See detailed Results here
The year 2021 will go down in history as another year affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing is as we knew it. Aerobatics has not been immune to the erratic social changes associated with the lockdowns and protocols brought about by the pandemic. Our aerobatic calendar was prepared with a whole lot of ‘maybe’ and all subject to change, much like our lives. So many amongst us have lost their jobs and have had to deal with illness and a lot of negativity. Traditionally, the national aerobatic championships is an event that we all look forward to, where we all get together and share in the competitive camaraderie of the sport. So, this year’s event scheduled for Bloemfontein was pencilled in and not a certainty until just a few weeks to go. Unfortunately factors other than the pandemic forced the committee to change the venue to Phalaborwa with a strong bid from their local pilot Ingmar Bezuidenhout.
A new, much larger committee was elected at the recent AGM which was held virtually as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. Traditionally the AGM would have been held at the Nationals, which this year has had to be postponed due to the pandemic, but it was decided to go ahead with the meeting on the originally scheduled date.
Cliff Lotter was the unanimous choice to fulfill the role of Chairman and Dusty Hughes elected to be his wingman. Retaining their previous portfolios was Annie Boon (Secretary), Quintin Hawthorne (Treasurer), and John Gaillard (CIVA Rep) while John Gaillard decided to step down as Chief Judge and Quintin Hawthorne elected to replace him. All provincial regions are now represented with a selection of enthusiastic club members.
Outgoing chair Gary Glasson had been faced with some unprecedented challenges during his tenure, all of which he managed successfully with the support of his deputy Eugene du Preez. The new CAA requirements for recreational aviation organisations after the demise of RAASA placed a huge emphasis on reviewing the way SAC managed its affairs. Gary spent an enormous amount of time attending to this task. He has earned some time off to practice for the Nationals.
Good luck to the 2021 committee!
The Aero Club of South Africa Centenary celebrations, due to be held in 2020, had to be postponed to 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was hosted by the Middelburg Flying Club and held in conjunction with the annual EAA Convention resulting in a great turnout of aircraft and airmen. While it was well supported by most of the recreational aviation sections, the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa dominated proceedings with a selection of aerobatic aircraft, formations and demonstrations. Read the reports published by Pilots Post and Flightline Weekly.
2020 will forever be remembered for the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on the world. The virus, labelled Covid-19, spread quickly and reached every corner of the globe by March when almost every country closed their borders in an attempt to stem its tide. Only world wars and plagues had resulted in universal ‘lockdowns’ of this ilk in the past, most of which were followed by years of protracted economic hardship. Locally, the airline and tourism economies were decimated, resulting in wholesale job losses.
The restrictions on international travel forced all the scheduled international aerobatic championships to be postponed to 2021 while there was only limited aerobatic competition in some countries during the lockdown. Despite being postponed several times from the originally scheduled dates in June, the lockdown restrictions were lifted sufficiently to allow for the South African Nationals to be held at the end of September albeit with required health protocols in place. Not many people had believed that any sporting activity would take place during the remainder of the year though, so the news was a relief to most aerobatic pilots.
The second edition of the publication Aerobatics - the South African Story is now available. Originally intended to be published in conjunction with the Centenary celebrations of South African sport aviation during 2020, unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those celebrations in 2020 and the release of the book was delayed to include the results of the 2020 National Aerobatic Championships. The book documents the progress of sport aerobatics in South Africa over the past 60 years and includes detailed results and accounts of national championships, achievements by individuals at both local and international competitions amongst many other related topics. The book contains 100's of photographs and illustrations over almost 300 pages.
The book retails for R450 excluding postage and can be ordered by registering here.
By Dane Laing, as published in www.flightlineweekly.com
As a young boy, I always dreamed of taking to the air, when I left school I was adamant to start my flying career as soon as possible and was fortunate enough to realise this at a young age.
I now have amassed over 5600 hours and currently flying for a local airline but one of my aviation dreams had still not been realised until fairly recently that is. I’ve always wanted to delve into the adrenaline-filled world of aerobatics and thanks to the dedicated guys at the Sport Aerobatics Club (SAC) this is finally becoming a reality.
As of 17 August 2020 all aerobatic activities may be resumed without restriction. It will however be subject to the implementation of suitable measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus by following guidelines published by the Government. In view of this change, the 2020 National Championships will be held at Tempe airfield from 30 September to 3 October 2020.
A team from the SAC was recently invited to conduct a training camp in Swakopmund, Namibia for local RV owners. By all accounts it was a successful venture and enjoyed favourable compliments from the participants. Read the recently posted article on Flightline Weekly Online magazine, below.
Johnie Smith, Quintin Hawthorne, John Gaillard
Two SAC judges were honoured at the 2019 Aero Club Awards function held at Rand Airport. Quintin Hawthorne and Johnie Smith both received Special Recognition awards for their achievements at World Championship events during 2019 where each was ranked first at the World Aerobatic Championships (WAC) held in France, and the World Intermediate Aerobatic Championships (WIAC) held in the Czech Republic, respectively. Judges are assessed and ranked according to their ability to correctly apply the requisite judging criteria and to correctly rank the pilots overall placing.
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