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SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge

Rand Airport became a hive of activity on Saturday 26 January with the running of the fifteenth annual Rand Airport Challenge, Frank and Cally Eckard once again organised a very impressive Rally.

The increase of Intermediate entries was especially notable and seemed to be a direct result of the training camp that was organised the week before by Mary de Klerk and Rob Jonkers. The SAPFA Committee are really attempting to grow the sport and judging by the turnout at Rand their labours are definitely bearing fruit.

The early morning weather threatened to disrupt the Rally but fortunately the clouds lifted and the Rand Airport Challenge was a “GO”. By 9:00 all the teams had made it to Rand and were ready for a day filled with fun flying. The official proceedings were kicked off with a safety briefing by Frank Eckard followed by a short address by Stuart Coetzee, manager of Rand Airport. Rand Airport decided to wave all landing fees for competitors on the day.

After the briefing it was time to get down to the business of serious competitive Rally Flying, the first team off Jonty Esser and his son Jonathan took very early as they had a family commitment later in the day, their dedication to the sport is inspiring, Jonty is also the driving force behind the new format of Rally Flying which is known as Speed Rallies. The next Speed Rally will be held at Morningstar Airfield this coming weekend.

In the run-up to the 2020 World Championships, which will be held in Stellenbosch, SAPFA are going all out to get as many new pilots and navigators into the sport as possible. Many of the teams that have taken part in the Fun category made the step up to Intermediate class. The teams competing in the Intermediate category had one hour to plot the entire route, and had to do so in the cockpit, which was a first for most of them. They also had far more photo targets to identify, and these were mixed up instead of being sequential and only one per leg. The pilots had only a 5 second window to get through each turn-point, instead of 15 seconds for Fun.

Organisers Frank and Cally Eckard gave them the task of flying an arc, which is a curved track between two turn-points, and a follow-the-feature, where they have to fly along a road, river or railway line. Every pilot flew the arc perfectly, and really enjoyed the challenge.

The route took them south from Rand Airport, around Suikerbosrand to Heidelberg, then down to two turn points on the banks of the Vaal Dam, and back again near Vereeniging to the Finish Point at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve.

Unfortunately two teams had to withdraw due to technical problems, Phil Wakely and Mary de Klerk had to perform an emergency landing at Lanseria Airport after experiencing total electrical failure. Lanseria ATC’s assisted them immensely as the only comms they had was by cell phone.

Once all the teams returned the painstaking function of downloading the logger tracks and calculating the scores got underway. After a bit of a wait the day was closed off with a prize giving ceremony.

The Fun Rally Class

First Place RC and CJ Shillaw in a Cirrus with 319 points

Second Place Thys van der Merwe and Gerda Pienaar

in a Cessna 172 with 870 points

Third place Kim and Andrew Pratley in a Cessna 172

with 1231 points

Fourth Place Piet Meyer and Pieter Kriel

in a Jabiru with 1410

The Intermediate Section

First place Shane Britz and Karen Stroud in a Jabiru with 750 points

Second Place Jonty and Jonathan Esser

in an Aeroprakt A-22 Foxbat with 967 points

Third Place Adrian and Adam Pilling

in Cessna 172 with 982 point

Fourth Place Don Lucas and Andre Kluyts

in a Cessna 172 with 1488 points

Firth Place Leon Bouttell and Karyn Purchase

in a Aerotechnik Sportstar with 1955

Sixth Place Mark and Renee Clulow

in a Rainbow Cheetah with 2170 points

The Unlimited Section

First Place Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer

in a Cessna with 409

Second place Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk

in a Cessna 150 with 766

Third Place Antony and Pamela Russell

in a Cessna 172 with 1344 points

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