The ever friendly Brits Airfield was once again the hosts of this year’s South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) National Landing Competition, the competition held on the 8th December unfortunately didn’t draw the number of competitors that were hoped for. The weather contributed heavily to the small field as many pilots decided not to venture out as thundershowers were predicted and flying may have proved dangerous.
After a very wet night the sun was out and it seemed that the weather would play ball so the competition was a go. The field consisting mainly of SAPFA veterans that have competed in many world championships, the group included the current world Landing Champion Frank Eckard.
The competition was divided into two groups the “Fun” class and the “Open“ class, both classes had to do four landings, both classes do four landings and try to get as close to the “Bingo” line as possible. In the Fun class all four landings are normal landings with power and flap settings as required.
The open class in far more demanding with their first landing being a normal approach, the second landing is a glide approach landing without the help of the engine. Their third landing is a more demanding glide approach landing without help from the flaps or engine. The fourth is an obstacle landing a normal landing but over obstacle 2 metres high located 50 m in front of the landing line.
The Fun class kicked off the competition with their four landings, there was on one group as there were only two contestants. The weather was perfect with a light North Westerly wind blowing slightly cross but nothing that would pose any problems for the pilots.
By the time the first group of the open class got airborne conditions had deteriorated slightly, but still well within the FAI Competition specifications. As the competition progressed the weather started to regress and by the time the last two contestants were on their final two landings a massive thunderstorm was threatening, it did hold off until the last contestant completed his landings and then the heavens opened up in a massive cloud burst. Some of the contestants couldn’t get their aircraft tied down in time and had the weather the storm hanging onto the wing struts of their aircraft to prevent them from taking off by themselves, needless to say they got totally soaked.
After the downpour the judges got together and came to a decision that the competition would be decided on one round and not two as it normally would. The risk of more thundershowers later in the day was great and most of the competitors had to fly out the same day and with many thundershowers predicted later in the day it would force the returning pilots to make that horrible decision of “should I go or should I stay”.
After a short wait to calculate the points standings everyone made their way to the Clubhouse for the official prize giving.
Jonty Esser was crowned the new SA Landing Champion with his top score of 50 points, Jonty was flying a Foxbat A22, in the runner-up position was Ron Stirk, Ron achieved a total of 152 in his Cessna 150. Third place belonged to Hans Schwebel also flying a Cessna 150, Hans unfortunately had to contend with nasty downdrafts on his last attempt as the thunderstorm moved in.
Gidon Zeffertt, a new comer to the sport took top honours in the Fun Class in his Foxbat A22 followed by Martin Meyer in a Cessna 182, Gidon could unfortunately not stay for the prize giving.
Thank you to Brits Flying Club who once again went the extra mile, going to Brits for any event is always an absolute pleasure.
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