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SAC Gauteng Regionals & Judges Trophy Baragwanath

By Garth Calitz with photos by Andre Venter

The Gauteng Regionals is the first comp of this year. It was postponed and combined with the second comp of the year, The Judges Trophy, due to the lock-down rules imposed in December. Baragwanath Aerodrome was the chosen venue for the competition and as always the good people of Bara made the competitors and spectators feel especially welcome.

The entrant list was unfortunately not what was hoped for, only eleven pilots entered. Sadly no RV pilots had entered so the class was scrapped for this comp. The low turnout is no doubt yet another result of the Covid-19 Pandemic which is still wreaking havoc with the daily lives of everyone in South Africa.

For once the old adage of bad weather following aviation events was proven wrong. The weather on Sunday was almost pristine except for a nasty southerly wind which did generally made the landings on the very narrow Bara runway very interesting, some pilots decided to play it safe and ended up doing a few go-arounds.

The morning started with a safety briefing by veteran judge John Gaillard, in Johannesburg Light Plane Club’s beautiful clubhouse outlining the position of the “Box” and the judging line and summarising the rules of engagement for the day.

John Gaillard

Sportsman Class, as is customary, kicked off proceedings with their “Known” sequence, this is a sequence set up by the Sport Aerobatic Club and consists of eight figures and is used for the entire year. Philip Eloff in his Extra 300 was the first pilot to take to the beautiful clear hi-veld skies followed by Ingmar Bezuidenhout. Ingmar hails from Phalaborwa and does his best to attend all the competitions in his brightly coloured Yak52.

Philip Eloff
Ingmar Bezuidenhout

Young Tristan Eeles led out the Intermediate competitors in the Extra 330Sc, Tristan moved up from Sportsman Class after winning the Nationals in Bloemfontein last year. Roger Deare was next up in his distinctive Eckō Unltd Extra 300. The final intermediate competitor was Andrew Blackwood-Murray in his Nashua sponsored Extra 300. The Intermediate competition starts with a “Free Known” sequence that the competitors set up themselves within guidelines from CIVA.

Tristan Eeles
Roger Deare
Andrew Blackwood-Murray

The Advanced class was next up and Pierre Du Plooy in his Giles 202 was the first competitor to take on the “Free Known” sequence. Glen Warden in his Slick 360 was next followed by Elton Bondi flying in his Extra 300. The fourth and final advanced pilot was Jason Beamish in his Absolute Aviation Extra 330Lx.

Pierre Du Plooy
Glen Warden
Elton Bondi
Jason Beamish

The wind had picked up a bit by the time the Unlimited pilots took to the air for their first of two sequences, Barrie Eeles in his Extra 330Sc was first up. The final competitor for the morning was Gary Glasson in his tiny Pitts Falcon the wind threw him around a bit on take-off but he quickly caught it and went on to fly a very good programme, after Gary landed everyone enjoyed a hearty lunch supplied by the members of JLPC.

Barrie Eeles
Gary Glasson

The Sportsman Class once again got the ball rolling after lunch with their “Free” sequence followed by the Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited all completing their “Unknown” sequence. While the guys were flying the afternoon programme the weather started looking rather threatening with thunderstorms building to the South. Most of the competitors left pretty soon after the close of the competition so the prize giving was very low key to give everyone time to get home safely.

The Judges Trophy is decided purely on a percentage basis effectively levelling the playing field between all the classes. Elton Bondi was declared the Judges' Trophy champion with a brilliant 80.746%, in a close second place was Tristan Eelesin his first competition in the Intermediate Class with 79.568%. In third place was yet another Advanced pilot Pierre Du Plooy with 78.172%.

Sportsman Class winner Philip Eloff

Intermediate Winner Tristan Eeles

Advanced Winner Elton Bondi

Unlimited Winner Gary Glasson

The Contest Director John Gaillard and his team of dedicated judges Quintin, Laszlo, Johnie, Clare and Lecia as always did a magnificent job. In a first for an aerobatic competition the scoring was done remotely by Natalie Stark who performed this vital task all the way from Cape Town, don’t you just love technology?

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