This weekend the second edition of the “Speed Rally” format of navigation flying was held at Springs Airfield and judging by the excitement around the concept I’m sure we can expect to see many more in the future.
Speed Rally’s was an idea hatched by Jonty Esser to grow the numbers of aviators in the Rally Flying fraternity, leading to the Aero Club of South Africa’s centenary and the hosting of the 2020 World Navigation Rally Championships, this can only be a good thing for Navigation Rally flying in South Africa.
Aircraft waiting for Rally
It seems to be working well Mach 1 flying school based at Springs had no less than five teams in the Rally and all the participants are already talking about having a re-match at the next Speed Rally.
Mach 1 flying school
The Weekend of excitement started off with some of the aircraft having to do handicapping test flights on Friday morning and afternoon. All aircraft have to fly their test flights and the race with full tanks this led to a bit of congestion at the fuel bay on Friday afternoon.
Competitors fueling up
A pre-race briefing “On Steroids” was held on Friday evening where all the competitors received their race numbers for the following day. Each team were requested to choose a theme song which was played as they made their way to the light and smoke engulfed stage to be presented with their race number. This really got the competition adrenaline pumping and the banter between crews was almost indicative of a world title boxing match.
The Current Championship Leaders collecting their Race Number
Some of the Teams had special Race Uniforms made
After all the teams were introduced and Rob Jonkers , SAPFA Chairman and Route Planner, gave a short but informative briefing on the rules of the rally followed by a short briefing on the starting procedure by Hans Potgiter the Competition Director.
Rob Jonkers Hans Potgiter
The evening was closed off with live music and lots of socialising, most teams headed off to bed early to get a good night’s sleep so they could be on top of their game for the competition.
The East Rand Flying Club sponsored a breakfast for all competitors as well as any visiting pilots that dropped in for the morning. After breakfast the teams all made their way to the briefing hangar for the official mandatory pre-race briefing where the rules and regulations were once again explained to all the crews.
The teams then made their way to their aircraft so the scrutineers could give them a once over before they were issued with their envelopes.
Checking the Fuel Tanks are Full
The envelopes contain the rally map and photos of the turning points, and are only issued twenty minutes before take-off that leaves only ten minutes for pilot and navigator to study them before start-up and taxi. The Course, Magnetic heading and Elevation of each tuning point is printed on the map but not longitude and latitudes are indicated, this forces the teams to keep their eyes outside the cockpit spotting and identifying turning points.
The Course Map
The weather played along nicely, in fact it was extremely hot which no doubt made the flying pretty bumpy out on the course. The aircraft are ordered from slowest to fastest so if they fly a perfect round according to handicap they should theoretically all reach the finish at the same time.
Hiding from the Hot Sun
This makes the event very exciting for the spectators as they all wait to see who will cross the line first. Plans are afoot for adding live tracking loggers to the aircraft in future Rally’s so spectators will be able to watch all the aircraft flying in real time around the course, adding a whole new element for this exciting concept.
Almost an hour after the last aircraft got airborne the airspace above Springs suddenly got very busy with all the aircraft returning at times there were up to five aircraft on final approach at once. The first aircraft to make it back was the Cirrus SR22 crewed by Team Shillaw, Ryan and Chris were one of the many father and son teams that made up the thirty strong field. They were followed closely by the current championship leaders sporting the coveted Race No 1, Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in a Cessna 210.
Ryan and Chris Shillaw
Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk
After landing the crews make their way to the scorers where they hand in their loggers and the seals are checked on their sealed envelopes, the sealed envelope is given to all competitors and contains any hand-held GPS devices as well as cell phones, these are sealed by the scrutineers before the rally but are available for use if the crews get completely lost.
Scorers hard at Work
After an anxious wait the crews met up in the briefing hangar for the announcement of the final results and the awarding of trophies.
The first torphy awarded was the award for hosting a speed rally and this time that went to East Rand Flying Club.
East Rand Flying Club decided to ensure no one forgot the day by supplying participation medals for both the Navigator and Pilot from each team.
Phil and Mary once again proved to be they deserve the title of Champions with a wonderful attempt that saw them taking the honours for the fastest round flown for the second time in as many Speed Rally’s. Second place in the fastest flight belonged to Ryan and Chris Shillaw, followed by Johan van Eden and Gavin Edwards in a RV7A.
Mary de Klerk ( Phil could unfortunately not be present)
Shareen Shillaw collected the Trophy on behalf of Ryan and Chris
Johan van Eden and Gavin Edwards
In the Navigation Accuracy Mauritz du Plessis and Andre Kluyts took first place with a near flawless track in a Cessna 172. Wim Kotze and Rob Gobac came in second in a Yak52 which is a wonderful achievement as it can’t be easy navigating from the backseat with very limited visibility, third place belonged to old campaigners Leon Boutell and Martin Meyer in a Evektor Sportstar Plus.
Mauritz du Plessis and Andre Kluyts
Wim Kotze and Rob Gobac
Leon Boutell and Martin Meyer
An event like this would just not be possible without a dedicated team of people like Jonty Esser, Rob Jonkers, Hans Potgiter, Dirk de Vos, Nigel Musgrave, Shareen Shillaw, Paul Sabatier, Eric Addision, Jonathan Esser, Christen Esser, Lizelle Kruger, Jeannette Landman, Louis Storé, Antiontte Addison, Sandi Goddard, Jeanne Esser, Gavin Edwards and Johann van Eeden these wonderful people deserve a round of applause for making this event the success it was.
The organisers would also like to thank all the sponsors that graciously made funds available to support the team to make this Speed Rally one that will be remembered for a long time. without The support of Sponsors itwould be almost impossible to stage a Rally of this nature.
The Speed Rally championship is heating up and after the second rally already boasts a large field of rated crews. Please visit www.speedrally.co.za to see the latest championship standings.
Meet the teams and scroll down to browse our Gallery of this event
Gallery of the Event