top of page

News Letter 21 November 2019

Good day all

Before we get into what’s happening this weekend and news about our beloved industry, I make one request of everyone that is flying around the country, please be carful out there the weather has been pretty rough the last few days. Temperature highs have been wreaking havoc with extreme Density Altitude and the high temperatures are being followed by nasty thunderstorms, especially on the Highveld.

This weekend sees the beginning of the 2019-2020 PilotInsure Speed Rally season, the first competition will be hosted by Mach 1 flight school at Springs Airfield on Saturday. Jonty Esser and his team of Speedsters will be introducing a new exciting format of air racing called Speed Rally Grad Prix, this will take place after the initial Speed Rally and each aircraft will be equipped with a real time tracker. The race will be monitored by the judges and live speed penalties will be given for height and navigation errors.

The 10th Canopy Piloting World Cup is currently underway at Skydive Pretoria at Wonderboom Airport . Canopy piloting (also known as swooping) encompasses several disciplines, all involving the flight of a skydiving parachute. "Swooping" is a growing activity in the skydiving world is one of the few skydiving-related events that is spectator friendly.

Shell to support Europe's first sustainable aviation fuel plant

Shell's aviation fuel arm is to support Europe's first dedicated sustainable aviation fuel production plant in the Netherlands, the oil giant announced last week. Shell is to provide technical and commercial expertise to the plant, which is expected to become operational in 2022. It is designed to produce 100,000 metric tons of fuel a year, resulting in a reduction in lifecycle CO2 equivalent emissions of about 270,000 metric tons.

The plant will also produce naphtha, and 15,000 metric tons of bioLPG each year as a by-product. SkyNRG, which will run the plant, was founded by airline Royal Dutch KLM, consultants Spring Associates and EME in a bid to develop the embryonic market for sustainable aviation fuels. Its advisors include WWF International, the European Climate Foundation, Solidaridad Network and the University of Groningen.

When it comes to carbon emissions, the aviation industry needs collaboration among industry players, it needs support to drive technical innovation and investments. The plant is set to produce fuel made from waste and residue streams, such as used cooking oil sourced from regional industries. The facility will run on hydrogen, manufactured locally in the Groningen Seaport.

The combined benefits of the feedstocks, hydrogen and use of low carbon energy to power production will reduce the fuel's lifecycle carbon emissions by about 85% compared with conventional jet fuels, according to estimates from certification body the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.

In return for its support, Shell Aviation will secure the option to buy fuel produced at the facility, the company said. Anna Mascolo, vice president of Shell Aviation, said: "When it comes to carbon emissions, the aviation industry needs collaboration among industry players, it needs support to drive technical innovation and investments, and last but not least it needs a multiple set of solutions that help drive a faster transition to a net zero emissions world."

The SkyNRG project is one of a number of jet biofuel projects that are under development around the world. For example, in the United Kingdom, Shell and airline BA have invested in a planned biorefinery plant in Lincolnshire.

U.S. Air Force Turns F-16 Fighter’s Into drones

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has had a distinguished history, and the U.S. Air Force is capping it off with a bang. Every year the service modifies F-16 fighters into F-16 drones, transforming them from hunters to the hunted. The resulting drones, known as QF-16's, are then shot down for target practice.

The F-16 entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1980, and over the past forty years has served in various conflicts around the globe. The Air Force purchased the F-16 over the course of at least two decades, and some planes are older than others. The oldest of the planes end up at “The Boneyard” at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. There, the heat and dry air keep old planes in good condition while the services figure out what to do with them.

In 2010, the Air Force began converting F-16’s to QF-16’s, this year 32 of the drones were pulled from Davis Monthan and modified using a Boeing-designed Drone Peculiar Equipment kit. The F-16 is relatively easy to transform into a drone because, instead of older aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom, the F-16 was a fly-by-wire aircraft in which onboard computers translate the pilot’s commands into action. The F-16 was one of the first jets in which computers, not pilots, issued direct controls to the aircraft. Tapping into that system is much easier than installing physical actuators that push manual flight controls.

The kit allows the drone to take off and land and perform fairly complicated aerial manoeuvres. Typically, the drones don’t land, however, because they’re shot down. The QF-16's are used as target practice by manned fighters launching air-to-air missiles. The Air Force’s “Skyborg” AI software, meant to act as an R2-D2 to a pilot in a manned airplane or a computer wingman in a separate, unmanned aircraft, could also be adapted to the QF-16, turning it into a weapon-carrying wingman for a F-22 or F-35 fighter.

The U.S. Air Force has plenty of F-16’s in the Boneyard—at least a hundred are lined up in neat rows right now in the Arizona desert. Eventually all Fighting Falcons will make one last manned flight to the Boneyard, and a select few will receive new equipment and a high-vis orange paint job to the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.

Then, it’s time for one last flight before being blasted into bits over the Gulf of Mexico, an unsentimental ending for one of the most well-known fighters in U.S. history.

Spectacular Skills at the Helicopter World Cup 2019

Spectators witnessed the incredible navigation and control skills from the international crews at the fourth and final stage of the Helicopter World Cup 2019 in Poland’s Lososina Dolna Airfield. A total of 14 crews flying R-44 and Mil-2 helicopters participated in the nail-biting final stage, representing the nations of Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

In the two classes – Masters and General – the pilot and navigator teams race in two different events, the Fender Slalom, in which the crew must dip a rubber weight on a long rope into barrels placed along the course, and the Slalom, in which the crews carry a bucket of water on a rope around a course without spilling any.

The Russian duo Andreyi Baraev and Vadim Sazonov who came second in both categories, took the top spot overall. They were followed in second place by Vladyslav Musiienko and Igor Sokolov of Ukraine who came first in slalom but third in fender. The women’s crew of Elena Prokofyeva and Diana Riiazova from Russia who have had great success this season gained third place. The nation cup mirrored the top two places and Czech crew Jaroslav Holub and Jakub Horacek took third place.

The top three master’s crews managed to take up exactly the same positions on the podium as in the HWC 2018! For the nation cup, the formidable duo Yury Yablokov and Konstantin Podoinitsyn took gold, followed by Mikita Laptseu and Vladzislau Kurs of Belarus and the Polish Szamborski brothers, Marcin and Michal, who won the General Class in 2018 came in third position.

The Polish stage of the HWC 2019 was organised by the Polish Helicopter Association “Helisport” and Aeroclub Podhalanski with CIG FAI, and the visitors were treated to freestyle flight displays by Maria Mus, member of the Polish national team, who piloted the Bo-105 helicopter and freestyle champion Garry Georkov of Russia who flew a modernised Ukrainian Mil-2 with new engines.



1. Baraev Andreyi - Sazonov Vadim (RUS)

2. Musiienko Vladyslav - Sokolov Igor (UKR)

3. Prokofyeva Elena - Riiazova Diana (RUS)


1. Russia (Baraev Andreyi - Sazonov Vadim)

2. Ukraine (Musiienko Vladyslav - Sokolov Igor)

3. Czech Republic (Holub Jaroslav – Horacek Jakub)



1. Yablokov Yury - Podoinitsyn Konstantin (Russia)

2. Sotnikov Maxim - Aleh Puajukas (Russia)

3. Degtyar Viсtor - Vasiliev Petr (Russia)


1. Russia (Yablokov Yury - Podoinitsyn Konstantin)

2. Belarus (Laptseu Mikita - Kurs Vladzislau)

3. Poland (Szamborski Marcin – Szamborski Michal)


bottom of page