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SAC Kitty Hawk RV Aerobatics Clinic

The Covid-19 pandemic and the lengthy lock-down imposed on all of us has brought to a halt all aviation events for many months, this all changed last weekend when the Sport Aerobatic Club hosted a brilliantly organised coaching clinic at Kitty Hawk Aerodrome.

The old adage was once again proven true, “If you want bad weather, organise an aviation event”. After three weeks of amazing flying weather, all looked good for it to continue into the weekend but this was not too be. Friday morning arrived and with it, the cold, clouds and nasty wind, some of the participants were unable to get out of their home base. The few that did manage to get to Kitty Hawk were greeted by a nasty Southerly crosswind that made landing anything but a pleasure.

Windsock telling the story of Fridays Weather

The proceedings were put on hold for a few hours but as the day went on it became painfully apparent that the weather had no plans to clear up and allow any sort of flying to take place. Gary Glasson, Eugene du Preez and Bertus du Preez decided to proceed with the briefings on day one and hopefully, the weather gods would be kinder on Saturday.

Nigel Musgrave, the safety and COVID compliance officer kicked things off with a short briefing on what was expected of each participant in terms of safety and of course adhering to the COVID SOP that had been submitted to the CAA in order to host this event.

With the formalities out the way it was time for Bertus du Preez to immerse the enthusiastic pilots into the wonderful world of aerobatics. The briefings took the form of a discussion rather than a formal classroom format, which definitely kept the attention of the “newbies” as was apparent by the number of questions that were asked and then discussed by everyone. The day flew by and before we knew it it was time for the out-of-towners to head back to base, all hoping for the weather to improve.

Saturday morning arrived, although bitterly cold one could not ask for better flying conditions and by 8:00 most of the visiting aircraft had arrived. The first port of call for all participants, instructors, judges and visitors was the COVID station to fill in the register and have their temperature recorded. Then off for a welcome cup of coffee and a breakfast bun kindly supplied by Bernard Botha and Warren Eva as the Kitty Hawk restaurant has not yet reopened.

ll the participants were then paired up with one of the experienced instructors that had offered their time and knowledge available to grow their beloved sport. The experienced instructor team consisted of highly respected aerobatics pilot and career airline pilots Bertus du Preez, Glen Warden, Elton Bondi, Adam Pucjiowski and Trevor Warner as well as unlimited competition aerobatic pilots Eugene du Preez, Barrie Eeles and Gary Glasson.

The instructors briefed the eager participants on the planned sequence before taking them to the GF for some hands-on practice. They were taught the basics of aerobatics namely the roll, loop stall-turn and spins, if they decided not to continue along the aerobatic road at least they will have left the camp with valuable experience which could be a game-changer if they found themselves in an “unusual attitude” situation in their future flying.

The RV Raptors formation aerobatic team arrived during the day to do a proficiency flight much to the delight of all present, it was amazing how tight the team still fly considering the long lay-off period they had. Watching these guys really made everyone miss airshows even more than ever.

Legendary aerobatic judges Quintin Hawthorne and John Gaillard were present to judge their sequences and graduate the “newbies”, if they were ready opening the way for them to compete in a full-blown competition which hopefully will resume in the coming months. The graduates were expected to perform a sequence of six figures, a one and half-spin followed by a loop and then into a stall turn, a roll and then a 180° tight turn and finished off with a 270° tight turn, all to an acceptable level of accuracy.

As the shadows grew long and it was time to return to the real world the SAC found themselves five graduates richer, Ian Beaton, Martyn Redelinghuys and Johan van Zyl all graduated in RV7’s, Dane Laing in his RV4 and Quinton Taylor in a Super Decathlon. Well done guys!!

As a final treat for the participants, Gary and Eugene took their machines out for a quick practice session, the guys that had just learnt the basics watched their sequences with a new appreciation and realisation of just how punishing unlimited aerobatics is on the body.

Successful weekend’s like this don’t just happen it takes hours of planning and preparation from a dedicated group of individuals. Gary Glasson the current chairmen of the SAC, his vice-chair Eugene du Preez and their team are doing amazing things for sport aerobatics in South Africa and in our neighbouring States (before COVID that is). Special thanks must go to Dawie Pretorius, The Kitty Hawk Airport Manager, for all the assistance, Greg Clegg, Bernard Botha and Warren Eva for all the help behind the scenes.

If you have access to an aerobatic capable aircraft why not join the next camp, the least you will gain is knowledge and confidence that will inevitably make you a better pilot and maybe you will find a new sport and who knows how far you could go.

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