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SAC Aerobatics Camp Kitty Hawk - Weekend Warriors return to the Aerobatic fraternity

By Ian Beaton photos by Andre Venter

Four intrepid aviators once again planned to head off from Tedderfield in three RV’s bound for Kitty Hawk on Friday 14 May. So it was that Mike Andrew and Craig joined the briefing bright and early on Friday morning. I was notably absent because things don’t always work out as planned and for the second time I had to drive through as opposed to arriving in style by air. This was late on Friday afternoon because I had real work to perform and as a result, my lower lip was dragging on the floor by the time I eventually arrived.

We were a far less anxious bunch, this time. The nerves were settled, we now knew most of the bone dome brigade, and had also honed a few of the flying skills in the intervening time. My fellow crew reported that in fact there was not a single bone dome insight on Friday, not even a pair of flight overalls. As a result of our newfound status of being barely competent, but at least having flown some aerobatics the butterflies in our tummies were still evident, but our training and hard work was paying off and at least in the most part the butterflies were flying in formation.

I must say I was a little anxious to bump into the group of instructors again, for so irreverently referring to them as the bone dome brigade when I penned my previous articles, but as typical bone dome brigade, they seem to have forgotten that and things got off to a good start anyway.

Dawie Pretorius, the airport manager, explained how we were to access the fuel bay, and he kept things nice and neat around the parking and surrounds, with stern warnings about leaving without sorting out the fuel bills, all were ready to get underway. Having someone like Dawie and of course safety officer Nigel Musgrave available and involved certainly helped to keep the whole thing working, and all the other people in the background, quietly doing what is necessary is often overlooked by us visitors, so thanks Dawie, Nigel and team.

Nigel Musgrave doing ATC Duty

This camp saw a number of new faces arrive and try their hand at aerobatic flying, the vast majority in some sort of Van's aircraft, there was a graceful farmer from the Free State, Estelle, who really enjoyed seeing just what she and her machine were capable of. Another new RV owner Darryl and his son Josh arrived from Tedderfield and they went away having experienced why they bought the RV7 in the first place and, and with a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that they made the right choice of the mildly aerobatic 7 as opposed to the cross country cruising RV9. Josh (16) flew with Jason Beamish and was given an introduction to what the future may hold for him, I bet he has some interesting stories to go back to flight school and relate to his instructor there, as he is busy with his PPL. I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Dinner was great at the clubhouse, and the sole reason the boys from the south crossed the boerewors curtain to the north, being Lynette’s by now legendary Vetkoek (legendary at a certain hangar at Tedderfield in any case) were nowhere to be found, this resulted in much grumbling from the Tedderfield crew. After a few too many beers, and perhaps a few too many whiskeys a wonderful evening ended with us arriving at our chosen accommodation at about 10 pm, having had a day filled with aviation, aerobatics. For me, my head hit the pillow and it was lights out, although in my subconscious mind thoughts about wing loading, entry speeds and lines, meant I awoke ready for action the following day.

Things started with breakfast, and a quiet enquiry with Lynette revealed that the Vetkoek would be on the menu for lunch. So with the sole reason we ventured to the north would arrive at lunchtime, and with anticipation of these delights awaiting us, we could begin to focus on the task at hand, our crew was ready for action.

I joined a briefing about planning and got great insight into sequence design, energy management considerations, height loss, calculation of entry levels etc, and with a new sequence printed out we headed outside to join the flying fun.

Our briefing was interrupted by a sequence flown by Tristan, and with all of our newfound knowledge, we were able to crit his flying and pick up on every single mistake he made and probably a few he didn’t as our Aresti notation was a little unpractised. It is good to see the level the judges are looking for, and how even an accomplished pilot seated in an exceptional machine, still makes mistakes that to my eyes were visible, imagine what I am missing.

This was followed by a training sequence flown by three of the Raptors in their RV’s and a few others to make up a four-ship with a bit of a solo sequence thrown in by Larry. A really nice way to see gentlemanly aerobatics being performed in formation.

Over the past year at Tedderfield we have been working on our formation abilities a little and as a result, seeing it all happening right before our eyes and relatively close up in the box at Kitty Hawk was really interesting.

Lunchtime arrived and eisbein, with mash and some apple sauce, was the order of the day, along with the Vetkoek we had been dreaming about since the camp was announced. The Tedderfield crew were satisfied, Lynette and her team did a sterling job keeping us fed and watered throughout the weekend. In fact, the food prepared for us the entire camp was truly great, not only from a taste perspective but from a price perspective too. Eight or nine of us had a solid dinner together on Saturday evening after most folks left for home, discussing what we had learned, who had improved and what should be done to get more people interested in aerobatics and joining the Sports Aerobatic Club (SAC), basically, a good evening out with our mates and some new-found friends.

The flying on Saturday carried on almost to sundown, with the final flight for the day being my personal highlight of the weekend, to sit in the right-hand seat of Trevor Warner’s aeroplane and experience a wonderful flight just at beer ‘o clock. The beautiful smooth flying, and effortless control Trevor displays whilst in the left-hand seat was an absolute pleasure to behold. His flying of a nice gentle sequence up and down the runway in the box was truly a privilege to experience and see how smoothly he flew.

So the results of the camp were that four newly qualified pilots walked away with pieces of paper and a big smile on their faces, well done to:

  • Anthony Becker: Aerobatic Rating

  • Andrew Robinson: Aerobatic rating and Graduate

  • Steve Viviers and Jason Boshoff: Graduate rating

This leaves me to thank the instructors who gave up their time to come and show mugs like me how to truly fly, a special shout out to all of these folk who willingly and so generously share their knowledge and experience with all and sundry: Barrie Eeles, Elton Bondi, Eugene du Preez, Larry Beamish, Jason Beamish, Kayle Wooll, Trevor Warner.

The SAC deserves a special mention for making this such a wonderful and welcoming event, lead by Gary Glasson, Eugene Du Preez, with significant assistance in the organisation from Warren Eva and Dustin Hughes. Finally, the judges who came through to observe the exceptional flying skills displayed by all of the participants and actually score the pilots who needed to fly in front of the judges to obtain their ratings are also recognised and thanked, Quintin Hawthorne and John Gaillard, So all in all the SAC has produced four new enthusiastic members as a direct result of the hard work and effort in putting this weekend together.

Please browse our gallery of this event