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SAC Aerobatics Training Camp – Heidelberg Airfield


The Sports Aerobatic Club of South Africa have over recent years spent a lot of time and energy in developing new talent to ensure the future of the sport in South Africa and our neighbouring countries.

Heidelberg Airfield

The latest training camp was held at Heidelberg Airfield, which has proven to be a wonderful field for aerobatic competitions with all the necessary amenities. The camp kicked off on Friday morning with unlimited class pilot Eugene du Preez at the helm for the first day. The morning was spent in the clubhouse under very gloomy skies, ideal conditions to focus on sequence design, with no temptation to go and fly. Eugene took the pilots through the fine art of positioning, aircraft type, energy management and safety which are all key in designing a sequence that will really impress the judges and get that winning score.

Eugene du Preez explaining a figure

All the participants were already aerobatic rated, so the goal was to push them out of their comfort zones. This gives the pilot the confidence to take on a difficult unknown sequence at the next competition knowing they have flown more difficult sequences before. As the sequence came together there were lots of Ooohs and Ahhhs but generally, everyone was excited to get out and attempt the rather difficult sequences.

Pilots having a laugh

By 11:30 with the safety briefing done and the weather clearing sufficiently it was time to fly. The pilots took to the air under the watchful eye of Eugene du Preez who offered crit on their figures and also advised where he saw them making basic mistakes that were quickly corrected.

Saturday morning arrived and the nasty weather had returned, all the pilots made their way to the briefing room for some more discussion on sequence building. Friday the emphasis was on the Sportsman class so Saturday was the turn of the Intermediate and Advanced pilots, once again there were gasps as Gary Glasson led the pilots through the building process. Many of the pilots have recently moved up a category so the new sequences really tested them to the limit.

Once all the sequences were designed and printed the weather had cleared sufficiently to get in the sky, this time with crit from Gary Glasson. Gary is somewhat of a master when it comes to energy management as he competes in the unlimited class in a highly underpowered Pitts Falcon and does so successfully.

Sadly, Ingmar Bezuidenhout unknowingly lost his tail wheel on take-off and only realised something was wrong when he landed and his newly acquired Zlin made an awful noise when he landed. Fortunately, the damage was minor and with the help of a few Heidelberg locals the aircraft was quickly removed from the runway.

Quintin Hawthorne took the opportunity to get some training in for the newest judges that have joined the SAC. Tayla-Kae Nicholson, Maritza Boswell, Nadine Brooker and Kevin McCormack were guided through the intricacies of judging aerobatics by the highest rated aerobatic judge in the world.

A very big “Thank You” must go to Dustin Hughes and Warren Eva for organising the wonderful camp and for all the hard work they and many others have done in the process of getting the Heidelberg aerobatics cylinder fully approved by the CAA, a process that seems to reach an end after almost two years of slog. Well done guys and see you at the next camp where we hope to see many new pilots especially from the RV ranks attending.

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