By Andre Venter
Helivate hosted their sixth instalment of their very popular Heli-Olympics on Saturday 6 Nov. The Helivate base was very active from pretty early on Saturday as the staff rushed around to get everything ready for the fun, yet very challenging tasks planned for all the competitors.
The morning's activities were kicked off with a safety briefing, conducted by Hayley Cumming the CEO and Grade II flight instructor at Helivate. Once the safety section of the briefing was done all the competitors were invited to “walk the course” it was during the walk that the new tasks were revealed for the first time.
The competition was divided into two groups SPL Category and PPL Category, in the student group there were six entries and in the qualified group nine teams put up their hands.
Every year the team at Helivate come up with new tasks that challenge, not only the pilot's skill but the communication between the pilot and navigator to the limit and this year was definitely no exception. The new tasks this year were Rope-a-Dope, a tricky task where navigators had to pick up colour-coded buckets with a hook on the end of a rope, once they had successfully hooked the bucket the pilot had to navigate through a series of obstacles before placing the bucket on a drum.
Task number two, Scrambled Egg, was no less challenging but did make for a lot of laughs. The pilot had to manoeuvre above a series of buckets and once in the hover over the buckets the navigator had to drop an egg into the bucket.
The third and final task was as always the Beer Fest, in this task, the pilot has to manoeuvre a bottle opener, that is mounted on the skid, into position and open a beer bottle. This challenge was slightly amplified this year as the notorious Krugersdorp wind made its appearance and this coupled with the high temperature and Density Altitude kept all the competitors honest. Surprisingly, even in these conditions one of the lady pilots managed to pop the cap in less than 15 seconds setting a new Heli Olympics record.
Hayley was challenged by her students to do the course and made short work of the obstacles In Helivates Alouette III, giving those students, that did battle a bit, the confidence to carry on until they reached her exceptional level of control in these strange flying machines.
Sadly, some of the competitors left before the braai and prize giving, some of them making their way to the EAA Sun and Fun event that was ongoing at Brits Airfield, for those that stayed it was a very festive affair.
In the SPL competition Team “Left Skid Low” took the laurels Pilot- Simone Meyer was accompanied by Martin Meyer doing navigator duty. In second place was “The Subs” made up of Haydon Heres with Navigator Devlin Griggs. Thrid place belonged to Pilot Gary Arnold and Navigator Animike Cloete who made up Team “Late Leader”.
In the PPL competition “The Subs” stepped up for the win with the roles reversed this time, Devlin did the flying and Haydon operated as navigator. In second place was “Little Loach” a husband and wife team of Charles and Christine Pratley proving that spousal communication is possible. Pilot Jacques Joubert with Navigator Gary Marais claimed third for team “Jac Crew”.
Helivate Helicopter Services was established in 2011 in response to the ever-increasing helicopter charter, helicopter training market and helicopter hire market within South Africa and its neighbouring countries. Backed by a team of dedicated and experienced professionals, Helivate offers a friendly and efficient service making helicopter charter seamless and stress-free. Helivate prides itself on the presentation of the helicopter fleet and pilot workforce, with pilots being especially attuned to the needs of our clients and their guests.