Ladysmith Airfield once again played host to the KZN Regional Aerobatic Championships, held on the 3rd of August 2019 under the control of the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa (SAC).
Eager pilots began arriving on Thursday in an attempt to get some added practice in before the contest. Friday saw a full day of practice in awesome flying conditions, with lots of ground critique to help pilots hone their skills.
Early on Saturday morning the rest of the field arrived in time for the mandatory Pilots Briefing, which was held with the emphasis on Safety while having fun. ATNS were present to keep wayward traffic out the Aerobatic Box and to co-ordinate competing pilot’s departures and landings. The EMS service from ER24 were on site, but it was hoped that their services would not be needed.
During Registration, the pilots were given goody bags, kindly sponsored by Pocket Deal. The bags contained some eats, water and a stick plane to help pilots when “walking” their sequence. With the Pilots Briefing out the way, the flying could commence in earnest.
The field contained a number of new aerobatic pilots, and it was encouraging to see the emergence of more and more RV’s at these events. There were competitors in all classes and the contest consisted of 2 rounds being flown.
The weather provided an additional challenge with a pretty stiff breeze that made the pilot’s task even more difficult. Despite the strong crosswind, the standard of flying was high. Yes, there were a couple of zeros scored, and there were a few pilots who should have supplied the judges with binoculars before they flew.
At this Contest, there were 2 notable firsts:
Due to issues with his original plane, Dustin “Dusty” Hughes was encouraged to fly his Chinese built Nanchang in the Sportsman class. This was the first known Sportsman contest flown by a Nanchang in South Africa.
The second notable event stirred up some long-buried emotions from some of the pioneers of aerobatics in S.A. In this contest Gary Glasson flew a Pitts S1, with a fixed pitch prop in the Unlimited class. Chief Judge, John Gaillard, informed all that the last time this happened was in the early 90’s. John, being one of the founder members of the SAC, and a well-respected Chief Judge at many World Championships, was ecstatic at this achievement, and some of his fellow judges swore they saw a tear in his eye.
Each Class was keenly contested, with the following results:
After the results were released, it was time to relax and have a braai and some liquid refreshments. The Ladysmith Flying Club kindly allowed us to use their hanger and Club house, and helped with the provision of meat and salads for the customary braai. The cacophony of noise indicated that all were enjoying themselves.
Due to the popularity and wonderful hospitality always experienced in Ladysmith, the SAC’s KZN Region will be looking into laying permanent aerobatic box markers. As Ladysmith is central to most active aerobatic areas, this will enable SAC to hold regular aerobatic training camps, where experienced aerobatic instructors can train fellow pilots, as well as introduce newcomers to the world of aerobatics in a safe and non-competitive environment. Many of S.A.’s top pilots have indicated their willingness to participate in this drive to attract new members to our aerobatic fraternity.
Aerobatics in South Africa is strong, and 17 registered competitors at Ladysmith confirm this. Anyone interested in getting involved in aerobatics, please join us. Contact any of the active pilots or speak to your Regional Representative. All details are available on the Club’s website www.aerobatics.co.za