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SAPFA Rally Flying National Championships

South African Powered Flying Association (SAPFA) once again hosted their Rally Flying National Championships at Brits Airfield on the 12 to 14 April, in addition to the a hotly contested competition for the title of National Champion the participants were fighting for a place in the national team that will be representing South Africa in the World Championships which will be held in Slovakia in August this year.

Unfortunately the Autumn weather played a part proceedings, and as a result the competition flying started later than planned on all three days, this did not deter the determined teams for setting up some amazing scores.

Discussing the Weather

Average scoring had to be used to determine the final result as three of the teams had to set up the routes for each day and on the day their route was flown they could not compete. Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer set up the route for the opening day of competition followed by Mary de Klerk on Friday and Frank and Cally Eckard set up Saturday’s route.

Frank Eckard hard at work planning Saturdays Course

All the routes were set up in accordance with the new FAI Rally Flying Rules, The new rules only make provision for one competitive class as a decision was made last year to do away with the Advanced Class at all international competitions leaving only Unlimited Class. Frank Eckard was instrumental in the in the design of the new international rules.

Thursdays route proved to be very challenging with the majority of the teams not have flying competition at this level since the last world championship. The took the competitors North and West of the field and incorporated fifteen plots, two arcs and a feature that had to be followed.

Friday’s route seemed to be more pilot and navigator friendly and with the extra time given for preparation the scores were vastly improved from the previous day.

Saturday all the teams were on top of their game although the course proved to be very challenging, with only 30 minutes allowed to plot before take-off. The course incorporated one 180° arc over the beautiful Magaliesberg mountains. The route kept the navigators very busy with the initial five turning points very closely spaced so the pilot had to do all the spotting.

A spot landing competition is held on the return to the airfield and most of the competitors did very well in this discipline of rally flying, the landing score is then incorporated into the total along with Navigation, Track, Observation, and spotting of Markers to get a final score.

Spot Landing

After all three rounds and all the calculating Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk walked away with the laurels, then flew a Cessna 150 with an average score of 636.

Mary de Klerk and Adrian Pilling

They were followed closely by the husband and wife team of Frank and Cally Eckard in a Cessna 182 less than 100 points behind them was third place Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer also in a Cessna 182.

Martin Meyer and Rob Jonkers

After completion of the competition the national team to represent South Africa in Slovakia in August was announced by selectors Walter Walle, who drove all the way from Bloemfontien to attend, Arddyn Moolman and Hans Schwebel, they are Frank and Cally Eckard, Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer, Jonty Esser and Sandi Goddard, with Mary de Klerk as Team Manager.

On Saturday aspiring rally pilots and navigators were encouraged to take part in a fun rally following the same course as the unlimited competition and judging by the scores they achieved we will soon see many more teams fighting for top honours in the unlimited class.

Well done to Brits Flying Club for hosting the competition and keep everyone sustained over the three day event.

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