The Chairman of Light Sport and Amateur Build Aircraft Association of Namibia (LISAMA), Matthias Röttcher and Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa hosted a very successful Aerobatic Training Clinic in Swakopmund in Namibia from 14-17 November. Without too much convincing Mark Hensman roped in Gary Glasson, Eugene Du Preez, Helmuth Ludwig and Natalie Stark to venture to Swakopmund hoping to promote aerobatics and safer flying thereof.
The date and venue were set and soon a few aerobatic pilots enrolled obvious not sure what they let themselves into. Six Namibian pilots, Mike Böttger (RV 8), Jaques Jacobs (Nanchang CJ 6) and Matthias Röttcher (RV 7) from Swakopmund and Phillipus Opperman (RV 7) and son Philip Opperman (RV 7) from Katima Mulilo and Tinus Dreyer (RV 7) from Windhoek got together in Swakopmund for the training weekend. Jaco van Zyl flew his RV 7 from Gauteng to Swakopmund to attend as well.
Thursday started with a casual meet and greet in the classroom of Swakopmund Flying School. Mark quickly convinced Mike Böttger to fire up his RV 8 for the two of them to fly a short sortie, while Eugene Du Preez and Matthias Röttcher did the same in the RV 7. The evening more flying discussions were entertained while enjoying the braai facilities in Heiner Schlusches hanger, indulging in a dop and a tjop.
Friday and Saturday the notorious Swakopmund morning mist did not disappoint and greeted both dawns in full force. Flight training was postponed on both days and instead Gary and Eugene confused everyone, explaining Figures and Symbols from the ARESTI catalogue. Understanding the Symbols and Figures and the Families they come from made as much sense as reading a Greek essay. But with excellent explanation and model aircraft demonstration it slowly started making sense. Well almost anyway.
When the weather cleared and the coastal fog burned off, the rumbling engines filled the air and the aircrafts took to the skies. Pilots were tasked to fly the routine which was selectively composed in the classroom earlier those mornings, while judge Helmut assisted by local pilot Dr Henk Koster in judged the flying performances of all. Gary and Eugene were tasked to critique the flights, brief and de-brief pilots, while Mark was assigned to enter the cockpits with the students refining their skills. As most pilots mentioned, the learning curve was a vertical line up towards the skies.
Having completed different flights ranging from the Graduate Sequence, RV Sequence and followed by a Sportsman Sequence the pilots were well on their way to hone skills and better the flying at a fast pace. The expertise and the coaching from top aerobatic pilots make for unbelievable progress and greatly promotes the safety while flying aerobatics. With all the pilots now at the top of their game an informal competition was started and competitors were given time to walk and “dry fly” the sequence. Shortly thereafter the first pilot took to the skies and the battle for pride and honour was on. Natalie put all the scores from the judges together and a winner was soon to be crowned.
The man of the weekend was without doubt Phillipus Opperman. At 65 years of age he flies aerobatics, completed all the Graduate, RV and Sportsman sequences and enjoyed every minute thereof.
A big thank you goes out to Dunedin Star Guesthouse for sponsoring the accommodation, Delta Wings Flying School for facilitating the braai in the hanger, Swakopmund Flying School for the availability of their classroom, Ground Rush Adventures for the use of their airstrip and Hotel Schweizer Haus-Café Anton for providing breakfast and Brötchen to the participants and organisers.
Maybe the weekend is better explained by the participants themselves, here is some of their commentary:
“The weekend surpassed all my expectations. I learned more in one weekend than all the avgas burning I had done in the last few years. The coaching was first class, the lectures professional, and the atmosphere and camaraderie, simply fantastic. Best aviation weekend in ages!”
The training weekend was a huge success and foremost the safety aspect for flying safer aerobatics is priceless. All pilots graduated and transitioned from weekend aerobatic pilot to achieving competition aerobatic status.
What a mind-blowing experience! For an experienced aviator who knows nothing about aerobatics, it was the birth of a whole new existence. Information overload at times for our ignorants, but what an action –packed 3 days it was, and I would have it no other way. All of us participants went away from there with new-found confidence and knowledge, which bodes well for our own future safe flying. Something to be recommended to all aviators, even those not interested in competitive aerobatics. I wish it was compulsory (part of syllabus) in obtaining a Pilot’s license.
The course setup was excellent. The fact that the theory (software) was mailed before the course started, made it easy for the guys to do their homework in advance. Which I did not so, since I only heard about the course at the last minute. The course itself was presented in a very informal but professional way. Interaction was easy – going and pleasant. The instructors were easy on our ignorants! The amount of “hangar talk” generated throughout the weekend was awesome, the chatter at the dinner and breakfast tables were all done with a model aircraft in hand. Excellent.
The enthusiasm of the course presenters was obvious and seriously contagious.
The theory we had in class before we went out for the day was given in a very professional manner and it's exactly what we needed to understand aerobatics better. It was a weekend in which I have grown much more confident and feel much safer flying aerobatics. I, only after this weekend realize what a competitive sport it is, with people so unique and a flying family I would love to be part off.
I never thought I'd learn and improve my flying skills so much in just two days. Not only did I learn a lot, I enjoyed every moment of it and had so much fun seeing what lies ahead for me within aerobatics.
Highly recommend to any pilot that thinks he'd wants to try it out.
Rank Level Pilot Aeroplane Registration Unknown Total %
1 SPP Jaco van Zyl RV 7 ZU-JCO 1068.98 79.184%
2 SPP Mike Böttger RV 8 V5-URV 1014.39 75.140%
3 SPP Matthias Röttcher RV 7 V5-UVR 987.93 73.180%
4 SPP Phillipus Opperman RV 7 V5-USB 724.59 53.673%
5 SPP Phillip Opperman RV 7 V5-USB 689.02 51.039%
6 SPP Jaques Jacobs CJ 6 V5-UCJ 531.17 44.264%
Due to work obligations Tinus Dreyer could not compete.
Anyone interested in flying aerobatics can contact the SAC for further information.