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SAC Gauteng Regional Aerobatic Championships

By Garth Calitz

Heidelberg Airfield hosted their first aerobatic competition and first for the 2022 season on Saturday, and sadly the turnout was not too great. Some of the regular pilots had work and family commitments but the tragic end to the 2021 season seemed to weigh heavily on some of the competitors.

The weather didn’t help much either with low cloud and spots of rain in the early morning, later on in the morning the weather cleared and left the seven competitors with beautiful flying weather. The safety briefing was delayed as and finally got underway at 10:30, Cliff Lotter, the current SAC chairman and competition director for the day kicked off proceedings with the normal roll call and weather information. Quintin Hawthorne, Contest Chief Judge, introduced all the judges and ran through some guidelines that the SAC had implemented to make the competitions safer.

Cliff Lotter

Once the briefing was concluded Elton Bondi was asked to fly a “recce” in his Cessna 140 to ascertain the cloud base, the cloud had sufficiently lifted to allow for a safe competition. When Elton landed the ATNS air traffic controllers, Marcus and Gladwell noticed a flock of Storks circling in a thermal on the edge of the aerobatic box, this further delayed the first take-off.

Elton Bondi in his C140

Once the birds had moved off Ivan van der Schaar took to the sky in his Pitts S-2A. Ivan was the only competitor in Sportsman Class. He was followed by Riaan Pieters in his Slick 540, Riaan flew and passed his graduate sequence, we hope to see him competing in the Sportsman Class at the upcoming competitions.

The Advanced class was the only real competition of the day with five entries, all eager to qualify for the SA team that will be competing in the Advanced World Championships (AWAC) which is to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 2023. Andrew Fletcher was first off in his Zlin 50, followed by Andrew Blackwood- Murry in his Extra 300L. Andrew is planning on upgrading to an Extra 330LX in the near future.

Dustin Hughes took to the sky in his Yak 55, followed by Pierre Du Plooy in his Giles 202 the final competitor for the morning stint was Adam Pucjlowskialso flying a Yak 55, listening to these eastern block radials is always a treat.

Pierre du Plooy

After lunch, the order was much the same except for Riaan Pieters who had to rush off and couldn’t fly a second sequence.

Ivan van der Schaar

Pierre du Plooy flew two brilliant sequences scoring over 80% in both, which was enough for him to clinch top honours. Second place was a tightly fought battle between Andrew Blackwood-Murray and Adam Pucjlowski with Andrew managing to just get his nose in front with 0.1%. Andrew Fletcher and Dustin Hughes took fourth and fifth place respectively.

Pierre du Plooy 1st Place
Andrew Blackwood-Murray 2nd Place
Adam Pucjlowski 3rd Place

The judges took up position below the very sturdy newly built Heidelberg tower which was kitted out with a gazebo for the ATC, a gesture that was greatly appreciated as the sun became rather nasty in the early afternoon. The judges for this competition comprised of a mix of highly experienced international judges like Johnie Smith, Laszlo Liszkay and Quintin Hawthorne and three new trained rookies Nadine Brooker, Maritza Boswell and Tayla-Kae Nicholson. The scoring director, Natalie Stark, worked remotely from Cape Town to get all the results processed and released timeously.

Special thanks must go to Dustin, Adam and their team of eager volunteers for Heidelberg Flying Club that made this competition possible, we are definitely looking forward to the next competition at the airfield. Well Done Guys!!



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