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South Africa Aero Club Awards Lunch

By Garth Calitz

The Aero Club of South Africa hosted their annual awards lunch in the Master Power Aviation Hangar at Rand Airport on Saturday 25 November. As everyone who lives in the north of South Africa knows that weekend fell smack bang in the middle of a very severe heat wave, not the best of conditions to host a “black tie” event but as the aviation community always does, they took in in their stride.

David le Roux, the master of ceremonies welcomed everyone and thanked the sponsors, DJA and Santam for assisting in making the function a reality. David then called the chairman of the Aero Club, Rob Jonkers to the stage to deliver his Chairman’s Address. Rob complimented the aviation community for the manner in which they managed to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic all but grounded GA.

Once the starters were enjoyed it was time to get down to the awards, first up was the awarding of National Protea Colours and the South African Olympic Committee (SASCOC) Special Acknowledgement Certificates. Leon Bouttell, Alewyn Burger, Apie and Frederik Kotzee, Tarryn and Iaan Myburgh, Antony and Pamela Russell as well as Steve van der Merwe received honours for their participation in the World Rally Flying Championships held at Macon, France in August 2023.

They were joined on stage by Hans Schwebel, Rob Jonkers, Martin Meyer and Barbara Frieboese who were presented South African Power Flying Association Special Acknowledgments for their support in acting as Judges and jury members at the World Rally Flying Championships

Wayne and Jonathan Wilcox were awarded National Protea Colours for their participation in the FAI World Championships for Pylon Racing Model Aircraft F3D/F3E Held at Drachthen, Netherlands in August 2023.

For their Participation in the FAI F3K World Championships for Model Gliders Held at Brasov, Romania in August 2023, Cayden and Gavin Davies, Nicole, Craig, Michelle Goodrum, Rhys and Jannie Smit, Alan Smith and Jethro van der Molen were awarded National Protea Colours.

The FAI F3A World Championship for Aerobatic Model Aircraft was held at Warwick, Australia in August 2023 and sported a very strong contingent from South Africa made up of Roston Dugmore, Jonathan Heath, Andre Stockwell, Joshua Twomey and Team Manger Neil Twomey.

Jadon Churchman, Chris Proenca, Logan Smith, Tristan Twine, Amber Welman and Team Manager Lance Churchman received National Protea Colours for their Participation in the FAI World Drone Racing Championships held at Namwon in South Korea.

The World Advanced Aerobatic Championship was held in Las Vegas, USA in November 2023 and saw Elton Bondi along with father and son team Barrie and Tristan Eeles receiving Senior Protea Colours for their participation.

Special Acknowledgement Awards were presented to Nigel Hopkins and Barrie Eeles for being Ranked 2nd and 3rd in the 3rd Sky Grand Prix held in Durban with overall scores of 80.391 and 79.668 respectively.

Aero Club Colours were presented to the overall winners of the SAPFA Speed Rally series for 2023, Quintin Kruger and Johan Whiteman as well as Apie and Frederik Kotzee for winning the Presidents Trophy Air Race which was held in Middelburg.

South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA) Awarded Senior Member of the Year to Kobus Els and Junior Member of the Year to Jonathan Heath.

The SAMAA Youth Developer of the Year Award was bestowed on Phillip Lewis for his involvement in the 2023 EAA Convention event that led to SAMAA reaching over 100 school children by introducing them to the building and flying of model kits.

The Model Gliding Association was declared SAMAA Special Interest Group of the Year, The MGA regularly holds regional events, in several soaring classes. It joined the SAMAA Combined Nationals 2023 in Middelburg for the first time, where Senior and Junior teams were selected to compete in the FAI F3K RC Soaring World Championships this year.

The Sport Aerobatic Club awarded Roger Deare a Special Recognition Certificate for his outstanding contribution to sport aviation. He orchestrated the highly successful third edition of the FAI Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics championship, held at Virginia Airport, Durban in June 2023.

South African Gyro Plane Association (SAGPA) awarded a Special Recognition Certificate to Tommie Jordaan for tirelessly orchestrating events and securing sponsorships to unite Gyro pilots from across the nation for several years.

Airshow South Africa (ASSA) awarded Marelise Scheepers a Special Recognition Certificate for her extraordinary dedication and service that exceeded her regular duties. Her pivotal contribution to Air Traffic Control during Special Air events and adept management of ATNS requirements in challenging conditions, despite limited resources, has been exceptional and invaluable.

John Boucher, Stefan Coetzee, Yolande Combrinck, Walter Doubell, Rowena Kraidy, Louis Stanford and Kevin Storie were awarded Special Recognition Certificates for their unwavering support of Advocacy in Recreational Aviation.

Felix Gosher has been the driving force behind his Children’s flight. He has successfully put together each day for the last eight years with no end in sight. His drive and enthusiasm are phenomenal and he has successfully inspired many children and adults alike in this drive to 'FLY FEED LOVE INSPIRE". For his remarkable efforts, he was awarded a Youth and Development Certificate.

The Matthew Cohen Trophy recognizes an individual and/or organisation for their outstanding contribution towards making aviation more accessible to persons to whom it would not ordinarily be easily accessible. This year's recipient was Peter Hewitt. At 29, Peter Hewitt experienced a pivotal moment when a skydiving accident left him with a broken back. Undeterred, Peter was determined to return to his cherished sport. Over six months, he dedicated himself to crafting a specialized suit, a testament to his ingenuity. This endeavour culminated in a triumphant comeback as the world's inaugural officially licensed paraplegic skydiver, completing an extraordinary 150 jumps.

The Don Tilley Trophy or Safety in Aviation was awarded to Roelf Palm, Roelf, a stalwart Gyroplane instructor in South Africa, recently demonstrated his unwavering dedication by revising the Gyroplane Instructors Syllabus for SAGPA. Through numerous workshops held nationwide, he engaged with SAGPA instructors and stakeholders, imparting international insights and research to refine SAGPA's instruction standards.

Dennis Jankelow Trophy for outstanding airmanship was awarded to Rudolf Erasmus for demonstrating extraordinary courage during an emergency landing in Welkom. His swift thinking and composed execution averted a potentially deadly situation for all on board. The perilous incident involved a highly venomous Cape cobra that had surreptitiously boarded the aircraft from Cape Town to Nelspruit. Rudolf's heroism serves as a testament to his pilot proficiency and remarkable ability to navigate unforeseen challenges with poise and efficiency. His decisive actions saved lives and averted a catastrophe.

The African Pilot Airshow of the Year trophy is always a highly anticipated affair every year and 2023 was no exception, although there were far fewer airshows this year compared to pre-covid years, those that did happen were certainly of a high standard making the awarding of this trophy rather difficult. In 3rd place was the New Tempe Airshow represented by Conrad Botha, and the SAAF Museum Swartkops Airshow was adjudged in 2nd place with the revived Durban Virginia Airshow taking top honours.

The SA Eagle Trophy for the most meritorious achievement at an international event was awarded to the team of Alewyn Burger and Steve van der Merwe for achieving 3rd place for landing in the World Rally Flying Championships

PGS Trophy for Manufacture or Design in the South African Recreational Aviation was awarded to the team responsible for the PCAD 700, Pierre van der Walt and Abrie Muller. The PCAD 700 is the brainchild of Abrie Muller, whose company Performance Composite Aircraft Designs (PCAD) is developing the aircraft, along with his partner Pierre van der Walt, the owner of Wonderboom-based Sport Plane Builders.

Aero Club Gold Wings are awarded for at least 10 years of meritorious service to the Aero Club and as always there were three recipients this year.

Martyn Evers

Martyn's interest in ballooning was first piqued in England prior to his immigrating to South Africa in the 1990s. Martyn started ballooning in 2000, gaining his Free Balloon Pilot's Licence several months later. He joined the Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa committee as Treasurer/ Secretary in 2003, a post he continues to hold today. Martyn is a chartered accountant, thus making him ideally suited for his role which he has served with skill and diligence for 20 years. Martyn has flown balloons in South Africa and France and remains an active pilot and eager ballooning participant. Martyn is a well-deserving recipient of the Gold Wings Award.

Mauritz Du Plessis

For exceptional service as treasurer of SAPFA for 10 years, including serving as treasurer for the World Rally Flying Championships held at Brits in 2022. In addition to tirelessly ensuring that the SAPFA finances are run smoothly, Mauritz du Plessis is a stalwart supporter of SAPFA who volunteers at and participates in events and provides guidance to members ensuring that they feel welcome and encouraged to participate in events.

Cliff Lotter

Cliff has served the SAC committee over a protracted period with distinction. He has managed to earn a reputation for his excellent organisational skills at aerobatic contests while sharing his passion for sports aviation and his technical expertise with fellow pilots.

Lewis Lang Trophy for the Pilot of the Year, there were actually two recipients, Nigel Hopkins and Mary de Klerk were honoured for their exceptional achievement of securing 3rd place overall in the World Rally Flying Championships held at Brits in 2022.

John Illsley was this year's recipient of an Aero Club Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1993, John established the Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society which he has shepherded ever since, ensuring that the many participants were introduced to a wide range of aviation activities and encounters. The Society activities have encouraged many of the participants to take up recreational flying as well as devoting themselves to professional aviation careers. Some examples of the Society activities are flights within the EAA Young Eagles initiative, in SAAF helicopters, transport and other aircraft, in airline flight simulators and flying club aircraft. John has ensured the Society’s participants take meaningful part as volunteers at EAA events such as the EAA Annual Convention, the Sun n Fun and other fly-aways.

That closed off a wonderful afternoon amongst great people and of course the aircraft of Menno Parsons who generously provided the Aero Club with this splendid aviation-themed venue.



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