During the EAA convention held a Vryheid Rob Jonkers organised one of his famous Adventure Rallies. This year Rob decided on a battle field theme as the route that had to be flown took the contestants through the area where the Anglo Boer war as well as the Zulu wars took place. The area just happens to be one of the most scenic areas of our country.
The route took the crews from Vryheid airfield North-East to a “U” railway junction, from there they had to travel around Lancaster Hill to a specific farm dam, from there they had to fly along a valley to a highly visible farm house compound. From there south-west to a farmhouse nearby a quarry, turning more south east on a curved leg crossing the Skurweberg mountain range. The course then required a decent into the Aasvoelskrans gorge where three distinctive waterfalls could be seen, this was definitely the most scenic section of the course. At the bottom of the gorge farmhouse was used as a waypoint and then to the battlefield memorial of Blood River Poort. From there to three dams that made up the last three turn points the last being the Klipfontein dam just south east of the airfield.
For the first time in an Adventure Rally each aircraft was issued with a logger mainly to test the pilots in the one kilometre wide corridor that they were given to fly in, this should have been a pretty easy task as the crews were allowed to fly with a GPS and had twenty minutes to programme them. Teams that preferred the “Old Fashioned” map approach to rally flying twenty minutes should have been more than sufficient to plot their maps.
Each route’s leg had turning point a correct or incorrect photograph to be recognised as well as a few cryptic questions that needed to be answered on ground features or sites that were historic or scenic. The crews are issued with a map, photographs and question booklet 20 minutes before take-off, the booklet also contained information on the area and all the answers to the questions.
Initially twenty seven entries were received but unfortunately seven of the entrants couldn’t get out their home bases on Saturday morning due to the bad weather. After holding off as long as possible the briefing was eventually held at 10 am after low clod and mist delayed the start, the first team to finally got away take-off around 11 am, with good flying conditions with hardly any wind.
For many of the crews the course seemed a bit too advanced with varying degrees of difficulty, some seemed to get distracted by the beautiful scenery and one crew got totally lost from the beginning. What was obvious from the tracks flown no one manged to fly with a GPS as they were all over the place.
When all the teams returned safely it was up to Mark Clulow to mark all the question sheets, while doing this he noticed that many teams didn’t refer to their notes at all and some tried to find the answers on google which didn’t end too well. While Mark was busy marking Rob downloaded the tracks. All the participants had to spend the day in suspense as the final results were only announced at the conventions gala dinner later that evening.
The EAAer’s roared with laughter as all the tracks were put up on the big screen after which the prize giving was held for the top teams.
Carl Visagie with Navigator Niel Terblanche in their Icarus ZU-EUV came in first place, Greg Clegg and Keaton Perkins in their Jodel ZU-UEK attained 2nd place, with third place going to soloist and local Morne’ Strauss in the RV4 ZU-FVL.
In the spot landing that everybody carried out after the rally, the winner was also Carl Visagie.
For the most accurate flown route went to Mark Clulow and Sean Cronin.
Adventure Rallies and Fun Rallies are held all over South Africa to try and ignite a passion for the sport of Rally flying and hopefully participants will move into the more formal ranks of the sport, with the world rally flying competition being hosted by South Africa next year it is crucial that the sports following is increased and “new blood” is enticed into competing.