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The Aero Club of South Africa Air Week

The Aero Club of South Africa hosted their annual “Air Week” at Middelburg Airfield this past weekend. Middelburg Airfield is ideally suited to accommodate an event of this magnitude, Richard and Irene Lovett graciously opened up their amazing hangar to serve as the base of operations as well as the dining hall, pub and briefing rooms for the entire weekend.

The Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA) was formed in 1920 by a group of passionate aviators as the national body representing aviation. Almost century later, the very aims that were true then, still hold true today and AeCSA remains the most important organisation to protect the rights to free flight.

The Aero Club is organised into twelve affiliated sections representing the various recreational aviation disciplines as independent organisation. AeCSA is the body that represents recreational aviation to oversee all the regulatory requirements, and is recognised by various governmental and international aviation bodies. Many of the AeCSA sections were present at the air week.

Unfortunately the weather did not play along and the low cloud and threats of rain kept many aviators away, nevertheless the weekend was still a great success.

Arrivals started early on Friday morning with the first being none other than the AeCSA General Manager, Alan Evan-Haynes in his beautiful Piper Super Cub, he was closely followed by Neil Terblanche, who came all the way from Kroonstad to join the festivities. By sunset of Friday twenty-five aircraft had arrived many of the pilots and passengers opted to camp at the field under the wing of their aircraft.

Middelburg Aero Club prepared a wonderful spread of “bykosse” which accompanied the braai packs that were on sale, an evening of friendly banter ensued around the bonfires that were lit in the braai area below the balcony of the Lovett’s hangar.

Saturday morning arrived with very overcast conditions and reports of mist at most of Gauteng’s airfields, this unfortunately postponed many of the pilots departures. Two balloons lifted off in the fairly light wind conditions for a flight. The Ballooning community are represented by The Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa (BAFSA).

Despite the unfavourable weather as soon as the clouds lifted at their respective home bases pilots started arriving keeping the Air Traffic Controllers, under the watchful eye of Safety officer Nigel Musgrave, very busy.

The Airspace continued to be very active as the competitors in the SAPFA organised ANR fun Rally took to the air to fly the pre-determined route. South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) represent Air Racing, Precision Navigation, Precision Landing and Pylon Racing. SAPFA organise many events throughout the year to promote the different sport under their control.

The Rally Fun category was won by Riaan Prinsloo and Deon Van Wielligh in a YAK 18T, followed by Mark Clulow and Piet de Wet in a Rainbow Cheetah and Steve vd Merwe ad Martin Meyer in a RV6.

Riaan Prinsloo and Deon Van Wielligh

Mark Clulow and Piet de Wet

Steve vd Merwe ad Martin Meyer

The Father and son team of Ron and Dusty Stirk walked away with top honours in the advanced category with Thys vd Merwe and Corrie Basson came in second they flew a Cessna 150 and 172 respectively.

Ron and Dusty Stirk

Thys vd Merwe and Corrie Basson

Due to the adverse weather conditions only one weight shift trike manged to make their way to Middelburg, MISASA was however well supported by the Lights Sport Aircraft with a host of Bat Hawks ,Savannahs and other LSA’s in attendance. Microlight and Light Sport Aeroplane Association of South Africa ( MISASA) represent all microlight and LSA pilots in SA.

The members of South African Gyroplane Association (SAGPA) as always arrived in their numbers, these aviators don’t seem to let the weather ever get them down. SAGPA represent all the pilots with a passion to fly the remarkable Gyroplane.

Throughout the day Skydivers were being taken up for jumps, All skydivers are represented by The Parachute Association of South Africa (PASA) this includes all disciplines Formation Skydiving, Wing Suiting, Canopy Formation, Artistic Events as well as Canopy Piloting.

Unfortunately due to the weather members of South African Hang and Paragliding Association (SAHPA) never really got off the ground at this year’s Air Week, SAPHA represents flying paragliders, hang gliders, powered paragliders, powered hang gliders and para-trikes.

The Motor glider fraternity was there to represent the Soaring Society of South Africa (SSSA), SSSA include all soaring aircraft including Pure gliders, launch motor assisted gliders, and touring motor gliders.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) was well represented as always with the bulk of the atending pilots coming from their ranks. The EAA is a community of passionate aviation enthusiasts that promote the building, restoration and flying of non-type certified aircraft through the provision of education programmes and infrastructural development.

Air Show South Africa (ASSA) provided entertainment in the form of two Harvards from the flying Lions Aerobatic team. ASSA represent all airshow participants. there mission is bring aerial displays to everyone in South Africa.

South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA) is the governing body for aero modelling in South Africa, a SAMAA delivered a breath taking display with a large scale aerobatic aircraft what these pilots are capable of is nothing short of amazing.

The Aerobatics continued with a brilliant displays from Jason Beamish and Cliff Lotter both are members of the Sport Aerobatic Club (SAC), SAC represent all competition aerobatic pilots from Sportsman to Unlimited Class SAC also recently hosted the World Aerobatics Competition in Malelane.

The Aero Club Transformation and Development section (T&D) has it as its mission to develop the youth into the realms of our skies as a place of learning and knowledge, they invited school children to come along and experience aviation first hand.

After a wonderful day of aviation fun it was time for dinner which was once again a braai with great side dishes once again set up in Richard Lovett's Hangar.

Karl Jensen kept everyone entertained with a very humourous description of how a Boeing 747 toilet operates, this was followed by the awarding of prizes for the Fun Rally and the various awards earned over the weekend and an address by Alan Evan Hanes. Dr Frank Parsons kept everyone entertained with his musical ability and even coaxed some people into singing karaoke.

On Sunday morning it was time to say goodbye, but not before Cliff Lotter went out for one more aerobatic display.

To every one that was involved in this amazing weekend thank you for a wonderful aviation experience, special thanks must got to Richard and Irene Lovett and the team from Middelburg Aero Club for opening their home to all of us.

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