By Garth Calitz
The friendly Brits Airfield was once again chosen to host the National Landing Competition on Saturday 29 October. Originally the Nationals were to be held at two venues simultaneously, the inland region at Brits and the coastal region at the picturesque Stellenbosch, sadly there was only one entry for the coastal competition and a decision was made to cancel the competition.
The entry list for the Brits competition was not great with only seven entries, of which one could not depart Brakpan due to the inclement weather on Saturday morning, which left only six pilots fighting it out to take the title of South African Landing Champion. The weather didn’t look too good early in the morning with low cloud and scattered showers, fortunately, the cloud lifted and we were left with clear skies and rather nasty gusty conditions. The wind was very variable making landing conditions very tricky for the competitors.
When I arrived at the newly revamped Brits Clubhouse the organizing committee for the World Rally Championships were engaged in a meeting to put the last of the details in place, as the first international teams are expected to arrive in the coming week to practice for the Worlds that will officially start on 13 November. We at Flightline Weekly wish the ten South African teams all the best in this prestigious competition.
After a slight delay, the pilots gathered in the clubhouse for a briefing with the officials and judges and then it was time to get airborne. With only six pilots competing it was decided to divide them into three groups of two to perform their four landings.
The object of this competition is to assess the pilot's skill in landings of different types. Circuits for landings 1 and 4 must be above 500 feet AGL. Circuits for landings 2 and 3 not less than 1,000 feet or more than 1,200 feet AGL.
Landing 1- Normal Landing: A free-style landing where the use of power, spoilers, flaps or sideslip is at the discretion of the pilot.
Landing 2 – Forced Landing: Abeam the zero line, at 1000 to 1200 ft AGL the engine is throttled back to idle power. Power shall not be used thereafter. Flaps, spoilers and side-slip may be used at the discretion of the pilot.
Landing 3 – Forced Landing Without Flaps: Abeam the zero line, at 1000 to 1200 ft AGL flying with flaps or spoilers fully retracted, the engine is throttled back to idle power. Power, spoilers and flaps shall not be used thereafter. Side-slip may be used at the discretion of the pilot.
Landing 4 – Obstacle Landing: The competitor will make a landing after passing a marked obstacle 2 meters high, placed 50 meters before the touchdown line. Use of power, spoilers, flaps or side-slip is at the discretion of the pilot. Approaches in connection with the obstacle landing, where the wheels are lower than the obstacle before passing over it, are not permitted.
The first group to take to the air was Tarryn Myburgh in her Jabiru and Hans Schwebel in a C150, they were followed by Fannie Scholtz in his Sling2 and Ron Stirk also in a C150. The final group was Jaco van Zyl in a Bush-baby Taildragger he was joined by Frank Eckhardt in a C150.
During the day a few visitors arrived and they all took a shot at landing on the "Bingo" line some had more success than others, its a pity they didn't join in the competition they may have done well.
As mentioned before the conditions were very tricky as the wind was changing constantly at stages it swung a full 108° and pilots had to contend with a slight tailwind, the standard of flying must be commended with the leaders managing to post scores that will see them pretty high on the leader broad in an international competition.
Once all the landings were done it was time for the judges to review the video footage of a few of the landings that were difficult to assess. After a short deliberation and consultation on the crosswind rules, Hans Schwebel was named 2022 SA Landing Champion for the eighth time. The trophy bears the names of all the winners since 2006- Hans’ name most often- the 2019 winner has been sarcastically entered as Covid-19. Fannie Scholtz was the only competitor that managed a “bingo” throughout the competition.
Special thanks must go to Dusty Stirk and his team, Dusty took up the duties of chief judge on very short notice and doing a sterling job. The Brits Flying Club once again welcomed everyone with open arms and the food was as always top-notch, I can't wait to be back there when they welcome the world at the World Rally Flying Championships.