The 2019 edition of the SPS Grand Central Navigation Rally was almost a non-starter this year due to other aviation events clashing with both the date and the venue. Originally planned for 7 September, the Rally was moved to 14 September as Grand Central expected to have an apron full of aircraft form the Children’s Flight the previous day. Departure times, which are very important in Navigation Rally’s, may not have been adhered to due to the extra departing traffic. In addition to these challenges their may have been airspace restrictions imposed due to the annual SAAF Museum Airshow taking place a Swartkops Airforce Base on the same day. The new date unfortunately clashed with other events as well, the RV Kitty Hawk fly-in and TAF fly-in breakfast, a decision however was taken to go ahead with the rally.
Superior Pilot Services (SPS) sponsored breakfast for all the competitors and officials at the Harvard Café before the briefing and a short training session for the entrants that had never taken part in rally flying competition. SPS encouraged their students to take part as rally flying is very beneficial to developing sound navigation skills.
With most of the national team members out of the country taking part in the World ANR Championships in Santa Cruz, Portugal the field was much smaller than desired, with two teams competing in the Open Class and two teams in the Fun Class. The weather forecast was considerably better than what was expected for originally planned date a week before, with clear calm skies with a 10knt wind forecast for later in the day.
Rob Jonkers had once again set up a challenging course to the North of Grand Central, and area the SPS students are very familiar with as it is in their training GF. The start and finish points were just north of the N14 in the narrow Special Rules corridor between the Waterkloof & Lanseria airspace, and from there the route went out over the Hartebeespoort dam, across the Magalies ridge and into the scenic Crocodile river valley, then east across to Soshanguve and back across the ridge to the finish.
From the GPS logger plot results, it could be seen the teams were struggling to slow down enough on the eastern & southern legs with many zig-zags being evident to counter the stronger wind at altitude. There was one photo per leg that needed to be recognized, some of them were at least spotted by the crews, including a bonus photo which was one of those irresistible features (Stadium) that had to be found somewhere along the route, and which many crews did find in Attridgeville on the last leg.
Route planner Rob Jonkers with his navigator Martin Meyer flew the course in their C182 everyone expected them to return with a perfect zero but even they had difficulty finding the all the photos and ended up with a score of 85 points. The Team of Nick Christodoulou and Andre Kluyts managed a very respectable 1164 points, considering in this class the navigation accuracy allows 2 seconds at each gate before penalties are applied, three penalties per second.
Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer
Nick Christodoulou and Andre Kluyts
Matthew French with navigator Michael Blackburn in their very fast Mooney Manged a score of 641 to take first place, second was father and son Jan and Max Coetzee in a C182. In this class the navigation accuracy allows 15 seconds at each gate before penalties are applied, one penalty per second.
Matthew French and Michael Blackburn
Jan and Max Coetzee
Everyone that competed had a great time and walked away with a better understanding of precision flying, especially in the slower flight regime, and having to deal with wind variation.
Many thanks extended to SPS for making all the arrangements with Grand Central Management and for the fantastic breakfast. Thanks also to Franz Smit and Ashley Loynes from PilotInsure for providing the teams with much needed water.
Please look at https://www.sapfa.co.za/ for details on the next SAPFA Navigation Rally