top of page

Ace of Base Aerobatic Competition

By Garth Calitz

Heidelberg was chosen as the venue for the 2022 Ace of Base aerobatic competition, this competition is unique as a pilot from any of the classes can be crowned Ace of Base the pilot that receives the highest percentage on the day takes the loot.

After the thunderstorms experienced on Saturday in the Heidelberg area, Dustin Hughes and his team were doubtful if they would even be able to host the competition, but Sunday morning arrived with almost perfect conditions. The only negative was the really nasty northerly wind that kept all the pilots on their toes.

The morning started off with the news of two pilots that decided to withdraw from the competition. Andrew Blackwood-Murray had a slight accident on Saturday while entering his extra 300 for practice, the Extra's step gave way as he put his full weight on it and his shin then scrapped down the trailing edge of the wing, leaving a nasty wound that need to be stitched up. Warren Eva experienced an incident on take-off while dropping skydivers, fortunately, no one was injured and he managed to safely land the damaged aircraft at Wonderboom, he was a bit shaken by the experience and decided to withdraw.

The competition started off with a briefing from Cliff Lotter, competition director and Quintin Hawthorne, Chief Judge, Ricardo Afonso from ATNS briefed everyone on take-off and landing procedures and then it was time to get the first aircraft airborne.

The judging team set up their position to the east of the field facing the centre of the box, Quintin Hawthorne was joined on the line by Andrew Blackwood-Murray, Cliff Lotter and Warren Eva and various volunteers to act as scribes.

Ian Beaton was the first pilot to take to the air in his RV7, Ian was not a formal entry but decided to join the competition as a practice, he received a score but was not added to the official score sheet, which sadly left only five official entries.

The only Sportsman Class pilot to take part, Ingmar Besuidenhout took to the sky in his newly acquired Extra 200, the nasty 90° cross wind proved a bit of a challenge but all the pilots managed to master it.

The remaining four pilots all competed in Advanced Class, first up was Tristan Eeles in the Extra 330SC, Tristan sported the call sign “On the move 1” as he is sponsored by sports shoe manufacturer On the Move.

Andrew Fletcher in his Zlin 50 was the next pilot to take on the known advanced sequence followed by Pierre Du Plooy in his Giles 202. The final competitor to take to the sky was Barrie Eeles in his Extra 330SC, Barrie recently step down to Advanced from Unlimited Class.

Once Barrie had landed everyone made their way to the clubhouse for lunch and a bit of banter before the unknown sequences started. The order for the unknown sequences remained the same as for the earlier flights with Ian Beaton leading the way.

After the unknown sequences were completed the weather started showing signs of ruining the party, but most of the pilots stuck around for the quick prize giving, Where Barrie Eeles was crowned Ace of Base a title that has eluded him over the years, Tristan Eeles took second place with Ingmar Besuidenhout taking third.

Once the formalities were out of the way pilots all the visiting pilots made a beeline for their aircraft to get away before the threatening storms arrived Ingmar Besuidenhout had, by far, the longest trip home as is based in Phalaborwa and had to make the long trip home.

Special thanks must go to Ricardo Afonso for manning the tower throughout the competition, and Dustin Hughes and his team for putting together a great competition, it is rather disappointing that so few pilots entered but with many of the pilots just returning from a trip to China and some now working out of the country a great turnout was never on the cards.



bottom of page