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EAA National Convention 2023

By Andre Venter


Middelburg Airfield has been rather busy this year hosting way more than its fair share of aviation events, these include the Prestigious Presidents Trophy Air Race, Aero Club of South Africa Air Week and many others. The Middelburg Aero Club team always manage to deliver more than what was asked of them, no wonder Middelburg has become a favourite venue for aviation events.

I arrived at a rather busy airfield late on Friday afternoon, many aircraft had arrived and the crews were in the process of erecting their tents under the wings and preparing for a weekend of fun, flying and spending time with like-minded individuals. Having a chat with Benji and Gugu our ATCs for the weekend I learned that there were 42 movements recorded for the day and that was from midday onwards.

As the sun set we all were reminded that the nights in Middelburg this time of the year were anything but warm, the fire at Richardt Lovetts hangar offered some very welcome relief from the biting cold. By the Saturday morning we realised jut how cold it can get with the mercury dropping down to -5°.

With it being so cold many people were chased out of bed to go find a hot cup of coffee to warm their bones, once I could feel my extremities again I decided to stumble around the airfield to find the hard at work preparing for an early morning flight. The Aero Club hot air balloon was launched a silently drifted around the airfield.

Campers were starting to assemble at the food vendors to grab a bit to eat before the day began, the normal hatter was heard laced with a few complaints about how cold it as the night before.

Pierre van der Walt of Sport Plane Builders based at Wonderboom led a team of judges that were tasked with judging all entered aircraft into the various categories. These aircraft were allocated special parking spots opposite the fuel bay. It was good to see some young people volunteering to do the thankless job of judging aircraft.

The Young Eagles hosted an International Day in the main hangar and later took many future pilots for a flip around the area in a selection of aircraft. Sadly, some of the young ones did have the necessary indemnities signed by their parents and could not be taken up to experience their first flight, they were however treated to lunch by the local Wimpy.

A 20 km Air Navigation Rally (ANR) was organised by Tarryn Myburgh assisted by her father. ANR is a relatively new discipline recognised by the and requires the pilots and navigators to fly within a predetermined corridor at a nominated speed, points are added for leaving the corridor or not arriving at the precise time. The Event drew seven entries. The winners were Chris and Richard Baker and second place went to Lauric Hilhorst and Nathan Oliver

with Deon Coetzee and Linden Knoetze in third. We hope we see them in our future Speed rallies.

Throughout the day talks were held in the briefing room in the Lovett's magnificent hangar, these included a regulation update by Neil de Lange from the CAA, a very interesting review of the 2022 Air Venture at Oshkosh by Karl Jensen, a Talk on Easy Cockpit by Andrea Antell form Aviation Direct. Later in the afternoon, Kevin Hopper let people in on the build of the prototype Orion Cub.

A STOL competition was arranged after Sean Cronin and Dale de Klerk challenged one another to a wager, sadly, neither Sean nor Dale managed to win the competition, but Sean, in his BatHawk did however manage to beat Dale in the Orion Cub. The competition was won by Thomas Marrow in a KFA Safari with the shortest take-off and shortest overall average, Regardt Coetzee also in a KFA Safari managed second overall and shortest landing.

The shadows were once again getting long and the temperature was dropping as people started making their way to get ready for the dinner and awards ceremony which was held in Richardt's hangar. The winners of the different categories were announced by the EAA National President Paul Lastrucci a the dinner. A Posthumous award for dedication and passion to the EAA and Aviation was bestowed on Gerald Maddams who passed away recently.

The Best Antique John Illsley in his Aeronca C1
The Best Metal Peter How in his Thatcher CX4
The Best Composite Wolter de Graaf in his Rutan Long Eeze
The Best Wood and Fabric Dale de Klerk in his Cvjetkovic CAG1
The Best Rag and Tube Kevin Hopper in his Orion Cub
The Best Rag and Tube Runner Up Oliver Dry in his Bushbaby
The Best Warbird Duncan Ritchie in his de Havilland Chipmunk
Runner Up Best Warbird Johan Lok Atlas Bosbok
Best Classic Aircraft Brian Appleton in his Auster 12 Arrow
unner Up Best Classic Aircraft Christo Erasmus in his ErCoupe
The Concourse D'Elegance was Peter How in his Thatcher CX4

A special word of thanks must go to the event safety director Mike Visagie and the MAC team of Marshall’s were kept busy throughout the weekend. Marie Reddy and her team for all the planning that goes into an event like this and of course Richardt and Irene Lovett for making their hangar available.

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