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SAC North-West Regional Aerobatics Championships

All the aerobatics pilots from around South Africa look forward to the competitions held at Klerksdorp, I’m sure in part because of the way Cliff Lotter always seems to get things right, from organising accommodation to the amazing trophies he always manages to turn out.

The 2020 North-West regional champs was no exception, due to the large field and only running the competition on Saturday it was a pretty early start, the briefing started at 8:30. Many of the competitors had spent the Friday night at Bona Bona Game Lodge as they celebrated the opening of their runway with a mini “airshow”.

The competition was kicked off by Tristan Eeles, Tristan flew his dad’s Extra 330 SC for the first time in a competition. It was quite odd to see a machine of this calibre competing in Sportsman Class, most of the other guys were flying Pitts Specials, RV’s or Yak 52’s. The rest of the field was made of Wally Goodrich in a RV8, Gregg Clegg in a Pitts Special, Jaco Van Zyl in RV7, Warren Eva and Ingmar Besuidenhout both flying in Yak 52’s.

The Sportsman Class is generally a hard fought class with all the newcomers into the sport, eight entrants gave it their all to reach top spot. Its very encouraging to see a large sportsman field as these are the advanced and unlimited champions of the future.

Once the Sportsman Class had all flown their “known” sequence it was time for the Intermediate Class to take to the air. The Intermediate Class was made up of four well known pilot, first off was Andrew Blackwood-Murray in his Extra 300 followed by Conrad Botha in his Slick 360. Rodger Deare and Charles urban completed the line up both flying Extra 300’s.

In the Advanced Class all eyes were on the young Kayle Wooll flying his brand new Extra 330 LX for the first time and, Kayle had spent a few days the previous week being coached by Baptiste Vignes and Patrick Davidson. Kayle however was up against some stiff competition in the likes of Pierre du Plooy in a Giles 202, Cliff Lotter and Adam Pucjlowski both flying Yak 55’s and Andrew Fletcher in his Zlin 50. Andrew unfortunately shredded his tail wheel tyre and could not compete in the unknown sequence later in the day.

The Unlimited Class where only the best of the best compete promised to be an interesting competition with Nigel Hopkins, Eugene du Preez and Barrie Eeles all taking part in Extra 330 SC’s the odd one out was Gary Glasson competing against the “Big Boys” in his tiny little Pitts Falcon. Gary is currently building a Rihn DR-107 One Design an American homebuilt aerobatics aircraft.

After lunch the competition continued with the “unknown” sequences being flown in the same order as the morning session, with the exception of Wian and Machiel Du Plessis, the brothers from Bloemfontein only arrived at 13:00.

Once all the contestants completed their second flight it was time to announce the winner in each category. The scoring process went very smoothly as the judges John Gaillard, Johnie Smith, Cindy Weber sent the scores to Natalie Stark, the scoring director, throughout the day considerably reducing the waiting time for the final scores.

In Sportsman Class Tristan Eeles took top spot with a very repressive 83.817% he was followed by Wally Goodrich with a very respectable 80.834%. Gregg Clegg took the third spot on the podium with a 77.709%. Tristan could not stick around for prize giving as he had prior commitments.

Charles Urban managed to walk away with the Intermediate top honours with a brilliant 82.240%, Andrew Blackwood-Murray and Roger Deare had a close battle for second with 74.765% and 72.968% respectively.

Advanced Class was one by Pierre du Plooy in his Giles 202 with 78.383%, Kayle Wooll came in second with 73.629% followed byCliff Lotter in his Yak 55 with a total of 72.904%.

Nigel Hopkins once again took the Unlimited Class quite comfortably with a very good 84.110%, Gary Glasson surprised everyone when he came in second with his way underpowered Pitts Falcon, the Pitts was never intended to fly unlimited sequences especially not at altitude, well done on a brilliant 81.627% Gary. Barrie Eeles came in third with 79.364% narrowly beating Eugene du Preez by only 0.2%.

Oscar Goudrian graduated to Sportsman Class in his Jonker Sailplane flying aerobatics in a glider is not for the faint hearted, we are looking forward to see how Oscar does in the next competition.

Once the prize giving was done and dusted it was a mad rush for all the pilots that were leaving to get airborne and back to their bases before last light. Well done to Cliffie and his team for hosting a superb competition.