Kitty Hawk Aerodrome just outside Pretoria is the ideal location to host an aerobatic training camp, it has its own registered aerobatic box and easy access to general flying areas in the vicinity.
Gary Glasson, Sport Aerobatic Club Chairman, and his dedicated team have taken it upon themselves to grow the sport of aerobatics to a level never seen before in South Africa and where better to start than at grass roots level. The training camps they have already held have started showing results with the Sportsman Class growing from competition to competition.
The Camp was held from Thursday 12 March to Saturday 14 March, and from the outset the “students” were divided into two sections. The first section was for guys that have a bit of exposure to aerobatics but still very much novices at the sport, the second group was for the guys that have never flown much more than straight and level.
As with all good training exercises, they start in the classroom, and this training camp was no different. Gary Glasson and Eugene du Preez kicked off the weekend with talks on regulations governing aerobatics, how to fly aerobatics in a RV, Energy Management and General aerobatic manoeuvres.
On Friday morning it was time for the flying part of the camp, some were excited and some were quite anxious but at the end of the day everyone had learnt a lot and really enjoyed themselves.
The services of ten instructors were called upon these included legends in the aerobatic world: Nigel Hopkins, many times SA Champion Unlimited Class and fourth place finisher in the 2018 World Aerobatic Championships Freestyle Class. Mark Hensman International Airshow Pilot with many world and South African aerobatic competitions under his belt. Glen Warden former SAAF fastjet pilot, International airshow pilot also with many competitions under his belt. They were joined by Eugene du Preez, Gary Glasson, Barrie Eeles, Jonty Esser, Elton Bondi, Cliff Lotter and Adam Pucjlowski all pilots with very impressive aerobatic resumes.
The novices were paired up with an instructor and sent off to Pretoria GF2 to practice stalls, spins and basic aerobatic manoeuvres like rolls and loops. Given the fact that there were up to five pairings of students and instructors in the GF a well coordinated and well designed effort was crucial. With the help of the Chief Instructor, Mark Hensman, five areas were pre-identified and GPS way-points created. The training areas were designated Area A, Area B, Area C, Area D and Area E.
Each instructor/student pairing was assigned and area and after take-off at Kitty Hawk proceeded directly to their designated area. After completion of their sortie they returned directly back to Kitty Hawk. The areas were explicitly chosen so that the flight paths to and from the designated area never crossed that of another pairing, thus, ensuring proper separation at all times. The slots allocated to each pairing was typically 1.5 hours. This included a proper briefing before the flight and also a briefing after each flight.
The more advanced students were given the opportunity to fly a predetermined sequence with and instructor while being “judged” by one of the most experienced aerobatic Judges in the world, Mr John Gaillard. John generally made sure that every pilot was well aware of EVERY mistake made while flying in the Aerobatic Box. The remaining instructors also offered the student a “crit” of his sequence explaining what could be done in future to prevent the mistakes they made.
Four pilots from the novice group received their initial Aerobatics Ratings over the weekend they were Quentin Taylor, Steve Viviers, Johan van Zyl and Martyn Redelinghuys we hope to see you guys graduating at the next competition. Bernard Botha took it a step further and managed to obtain his Graduate Rating over the weekend he has now qualified to join the growing Sportsman Class at next competition, Well done Bernard.
The weekend camp as the ones before were a massive success but the best people to judge the Camp would be the participants themselves. Their feedback shapes the evolving training camp manual of procedure and ensures that SAC are doing what the students want them to do but also at the same time we ensure that our syllabus is all encompassing.
Feedback for Participants:
Well thanks to everyone for all of it. I think I learned more in 3 hours than the last 5000 hours. Thanks to organizers it was well put together. I flew with Cliff and he was the best instructor I ever had. I Had an awesome weekend and learned a lot. Exceeded my expectations 10-fold. I thought we would just learn a few figures but ended up flying a whole sequence.
Craig Mac Murray
Wow, what a fantastic weekend. It’s difficult to articulate how I feel, but beyond awesome. My expectations were exceeded. I have a completely new respect for the RV, and now I am a lot more in tune with flying. I am definitely a lot more competent and can even do some aerobatics which has rejuvenated my aviation enthusiasm. The entire experience was extremely professional, a huge thanks to the dedicated team. I have learned more in the last few days than in years of flying. This was a privilege and a must for all RV pilots. A special thanks to Mark, my instructor.
Thank you to everyone at the training camp from the organizers to the instructors, for making this a huge successful fun time (Awesome), I’m going home today as a much better pilot. I arrived as a bundle of nerves not knowing what to expect and Cliff, as my instructor, for the duration of the camp instilled confidence and made me feel relaxed during my training. Thank you.
Frank van Heerden:
Thank you once again! A great training camp, a lot of adrenaline! A lot of new friends and appreciation for the organizers and instructors!
Johan van Zyl:
Huge thank you to SAC and all the top-class instructors, an amazing experience thanks for the professional coaching and all the effort—see u guys soon.
Leon le Roux:
Surpassed all my expectations and laid any fears I had. To the uninitiated, get your seat in an RV with an accomplished instructor and experience true joy of what aviation can offer. You will want to do it again and most probably sell that boere Boeing you thought was fulfilling your flying kicks and buy into an RV to venture into the awesome unknown. Thanks again all
To most of humanity, flinging yourself vertically down (or up) repeatedly is absolutely horrifying. Furthermore, that such is done with precision and joy again and again to reach perfection is the domain of a such an infinitesimal group of people it barely computes. Ignoring parachutists and 737max’s, you guys have converted one of humans most atavistic horrors into a life changing (truly) appreciation for form, motion and elegance. I can but salute you, especially Elton, Glen and historically Trevor Warner for welcoming scaredy-cat me into such a tiny but special band of people such that I can’t wait to do it again and better and yes....push down for the vertical line. Much appreciation to everyone. Watch this space... I’ll be qualifying soon!
Once again a fantastic time was had by all. I am quite sure you will be having a growing number of members of the SAC from Tedderfield. We have in excess of 20 RV's on the field and two boxes within 5 minutes flying. So perhaps consider Tedders as a base for a similar event in the future. We are really close to the GF too. Downside is box is not at Tedderfield itself. With a little thought and ingenuity, we may be able to contribute to a fantastic repeat of what we have experienced at FAKT. There is also the possibility of accommodation being made available at little or no cost on the field. That will take some planning but I do know the chairperson of the FATA scheme very well (me).
Gary and Eugene would like to say thank you to our Chief Judge, Mr John Gaillard for attending the Training Camp. Furthermore, a big thanks must go out to Natalie Stark for assisting with all the administrative matters throughout the weekends, which included drawing up the flying schedule and pairing the students with instructors – a massive task that I can assure you.
Last but not least a big thank you to all the instructors and in particular Mark Hensman, our chief instructor, who joined for the weekend, some from as far as Cape Town, the SAC is a much richer place due to your infectious enthusiasm.