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SAC National Aerobatics Championships 2023

By Garth Calitz photos by Jana Niemoller

Central South Africa has become the favourite venue for the Sports Aerobatic Club's annual national aerobatics competition as it is the most accessible for pilots from all over South Africa to attend. In the central South African region the most suited airfield has and will always be Tempe, with a permanent aerobatics box and good-quality paved runways.

Pierre du Plooy in his Giles 202

The entry list for the 2023 Nationals was rather underwhelming but considering the state of the economy and sky-rocketing fuel prices, I guess we should be happy that the competition even took place. The cost of ferrying aircraft to a competition and actually flying in the competition is sadly only a fraction of the cost. For any aerobatics pilot to be competitive many hours of practice have to be flown and that is where the real expense lies.

Elton Bondi in his Extra 330SC

This year saw no Sportsman Class pilots competing, which is distressing for the sport's long-term growth, Sportsman is the feeder category for upcoming future champions and is an essential part of the Sports sustainability, we all hope this is a temporary situation and will soon have full fields at regional and national competitions.

Andrew Blackwood-Murray in his Extra 300L

Originally there were two entries in the relatively new RV Class but sadly Ian Beaton had to withdraw at number 99 leaving Div Visser as the sole contender for the class honours.

Intermediate Class was slightly better with four contestants of which one withdrew due to illness after the second day of competition. The remaining intermediate pilots however flew a very close competition producing very respectable scores.

Warren Eva walking his sequence

The Advanced Class was where the real competition was this year, being an AWAC year, the contestants were pushing hard for a place in the National team that is scheduled to go to La Vegas for the Advanced World Aerobatics Championships later this year. Barrie Eeles, a regular Unlimited contestant decided to step down to Advanced for this year and as a result, had to take part Hors de Concours (H/C) which means he will be scored but not included as a contestant.

Barrie Eeles in his Extra 330S

South African Aerobatics is blessed to have some of the most experienced Judges in the world resident here such as Quintin Hawthorne, Laszlo Liszkay, Johnie Smith and Mike Stark all veterans of many international competitions. Having this calibre of judging places the contestants in a brilliant position to gauge their performance against the top pilots in the world without having to actually compete against them. These highly experienced judges were joined by the very capable next generation of SA Judges, Tayla-Kae Nicholson, Maritza Boswel, Nadine Brooker and Kelly McAuley.

Judges for competition

After three days of serious competition flying the contestants were eager to know how they performed but they would have to wait a little longer as the results would only be made public at the gala dinner to be held on the Saturday evening after the Tempe Airshow and the SCAC AGM where new leadership of the club as chosen, congratulations to Warren Eva and Ingmar Bezuidenhout who were elected Chairman and Vice Chair respectively.

Warren Eva and Ingmar Bezuidenhout

Banes Lodge was once again chosen as the venue for the gala dinner and on arrival there was a nervous energy amongst the Advanced Pilots as this was not just a run-of-the-mill competition, places in the National team were at stake. The evening kicked off with the usually funny prizes for people that did something funny during the competition and Warren was officially crowned “King of SAC”.

Once dinner was enjoyed it was time for the all-important results, Div Visser was awarded the Flightline Weekly RV Class trophy for the second year running.

Warren Eva was crowned Intermediate National Champion with a brilliant score of 76.238% edging out Ingmar Bezuidenhout, who achieved a respectable 67.552% and Roger Deare with 2.250% to second and third.

Then it was time for the Advanced Class results, Elton Bondi was announced as the new Advanced Class champion with a wonderful score of 78.882%, this score will place im fairly high up in the world rankings if obtained at AWAC. Tristan Eeles came in a very close second with a brilliant 77.705% and Pierre du Plooy came in third with a score of 72.409%. The highest scores were obtained by Barrie Eeles scoring a remarkable 80.795% as mentioned before his score would not be eligible for this competition but he will be flying at the Las Vegas championships.

The Las Vegas Protea team was then announced, and in no particular order, Cliff Lotter, Kayle Wooll, Elton Bondi, Barrie Eeles, Tristan Eeles Piere du Plooy, Andrew Blackwood-Murray and team manager Annie Boon will be representing South Africa in the FAI World Advanced Aerobatic Championship Las Vegas, Navda from the 24 October to 4 November 2023. Well done all and bring back the silverware.

Cliff Lotter, Quintin Hawthorne (Judge), Warren Eva (Chairman) Kayle Wooll, Elton Bondi, Barrie Eeles, Tristan Eeles, Pierre du Plooy, Andrew Blackwood-Murray and seated is Annie Boon (Team Manager)



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