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EAA Sun ‘n Fun Brits Airfield

By Garth Calitz and Rob Jonkers

One of the highlights on the aviation calendar for anyone affiliated with general aviation in South Africa, Sun ‘n Fun seems to have found a home at Brits Airfield with wonderful areas to camp and a great restaurant to take care of the sustenance needs of all the visitors.

EAA Chapter 322 really put a lot of effort into organising a weekend like this making sure that all the needs of the members are addressed, from tents that can be hired for those that don’t feel like the hassle of bringing their own to making sure there is food available for everyone. Planning starts very early in the year to ensure that the event is a great success, this includes appointing a safety officer to take care of all the legal requirements from the SACAA. Nigel Musgrave has over the last few years proven his worth by diligently addressing everything the CAA requires.

The Sun ‘n Fun weekend generally kicks off on Friday when a number of the visitors arrive, sadly the Friday arrivals are nowhere near the numbers that there were before the world went mad over Covid. The bulk of the 110 visiting aircraft did however join the festivities for Saturday. This kept the team from ATNS very busy but as always they did a sterling job and in a much cooler tower as an air conditioner had recently been installed.

ATC Team Megan Evans, Benji Phukubje and Eugene Hlungwani

On Saturday afternoon Rodney Benn and Derek Hopkins took to the air in Rodney's Donier Do-27 loaded with 2000 paper poppies. Marie Reddy had painstakingly made the poppies to release in remembrance of the fallen soldiers of all the wars. to find out more about the tradition of the poppy please click here.

Activities are planned for Saturday which includes aircraft judging and the very popular Adventure Rally. Aircraft are judged in different categories and the proud owners are awarded a certificate and prizes which are graciously donated by the sponsors.

James Bain’s Alouette II was adjudged the Best Warbird, while the Best Rotor Wing Prize went to Anton von Willich for his immaculate Aerospatiale Gazelle. Best Vintage aircraft honours went to Keaton Perkins for the beautifully restored American Champion Decathlon. Mike Davis and Tony van der Heuwel walked off with the prize for the Best Homebuilt, the Osprey GP4 they now own was the same aircraft that Chalkie Stobbart shattered the Henshaw Challenge record in 2009. The Best Kit Built aircraft went to Derek Hopkins for “Mo” his RV8, this prize made me rather proud as I did assist Derek on occasion during the build.

Derek Hopkins receiving his prized certificate

The Puma Energy Flying Lions dropped in for a visit and flew one of their signature displays before heading back to Rand Airport. The Flying Lions have been to almost every flying event since the lock-down was lifted and are always appreciated by everyone.

The Adventure Rally has become a draw-card at the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, the entries were lower than in previous years with only ten teams entering, the extremely high temperatures experienced in the North-West Province may have deterred some of the hopefuls from entering. The mercury reached well into the high 30° on Saturday and pushed the density altitude up to very close to 7000’, the elevation at Brits is only 3740’.

The rally is about teams enjoying the more relaxed and fun kind of event mostly involving observation out of the window recognition of ground features and learning about the area being flown over. The format was in the form of a pre-defined route map that was available prior to the event starting for everybody to either plan their route with traditional map plotting tools or to program their GPS’s – if they were more at home following the magenta line.

Navigation accuracy was also a criterion in the scoring, where a 1 nm wide virtual corridor was established, where the teams had to make sure that they did not stray outside these boundaries as time penalties would be applied for the period outside the corridor. This year the format was made a little easier, and somewhat shorter, just under 60 nm, with all turn point photos shown as correct, and 4 photos provided along the last leg – which was a “follow the river” leg where the location of these photos had to be marked on the map.

A booklet was also provided with details of each turning point, and a number of questions to be answered, some answers could be obtained from a section of wiki notes – with a warning – “Don’t read at your peril….”, and guess what…., some forgot to find the answers in the most obvious place…. or were too busy trying to keep on track, some answers had to be found on the map, the remainder of the answers had to be found by looking out the window.

On returning, the competitors had to carry out a spot landing where landing line judge Dave Lister and Kevin Marsden was on hand to adjudicate, also trying out some new video recording equipment. With everybody successfully home, it was time for marking the exam papers which was left to Martin Meyer to carry out, while Rob downloaded the loggers and scored the Navigation Accuracy.

First place in landing went to Fanie Scholtz in his Sling ZU-FZF, second place went to Sean Cronin in his Bathawk ZU-IGI and in 3rd place Neil Bowden in his Sling ZU-OSH. Sadly Fannie was not present at the awards ceremony.

When all was tallied up, Pierre Dippenaar took home the trophy, this being the second time since 2015, flying the Piper Cub ZS-PCX on his own, something to be said to fly slow enough not to miss the navigation points. In second place was Fanie Scholtz with his sister Carla Haasbroek in their Sling ZU-FZF and in third place was Sean Cronin and Marie Reddy in their Bathawk ZU-IGI, Marie having got full marks on all the questions.

The Sling floating trophy was handed over to Pierre Dippenaar, this being the 6th event where this floating trophy has been awarded, the Sling factory continues to support the Sun & Fun event and also the Adventure Rally.

The EAA would once again like to thank all their loyal sponsors for their contributions, without the generosity of these good people events of this nature would never happen.

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