I personally did not believe that a Nationals in 2020 was going to happen. As lock-down prevented all forms of recreation aviation, we ended up cancelling both the Eastern Cape and KZN Regional competitions. We decided to postpone Nationals to August and then to end September. When we realised a comp was possible, we first decided to gauge interest from our members (no point organising a Nationals for 5 guys!). We were all amazed at the response which, to be honest, was unexpected! The committee gave Conrad Botha the green light to commence with planning to host what you see here today, an incredibly well attended and organised Nationals 2020! I would like to extend my thanks to Conrad Botha for not only the hard work required in organising an event of this nature but also the never say die, let’s make it happen attitude. I think he deserves a round of applause!
As you all know, 2020 had its challenges. Initially, COVID lock-down regulations completely outlawed recreational aviation. As pilots and aircraft owners, we feared for both lack of currency/ proficiency and the continued serviceability of our aircraft, in particular, their engines. Aeroclub & CAASA fought hard to get maintenance flights approved for Recreation Aviation. Although it was great to get back into the air again, monthly flights didn’t do much to assure proficiency. An easing of lock-down allowed weekly proficiency flights to take place. Thanks mainly to Eugene du Preez, a flight authorisation system was designed and implemented by the Aeroclub that controlled the process. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Aeroclub for fighting to free up recreation aviation during this period. I can tell you, both Rob Jonkers and Marthinus Potgieter worked their asses for us off during this period.
The SAC committee had their share of challenges throughout the year starting with the CAA audit of our ARO. This was the first CAA audit after the dissolution of RAASA. It didn’t go well! We ended the audit with 15 findings which needed addressing prior to our ARO Certificate being issued. Our Manual of Procedures required a major overhaul & working documents needed to be created and implemented. Thankfully, we managed to complete the required changes and have them approved just prior to the Swellendam competition last year. Other changes included the addition of an Emergency Response Plan, a revised Contest Directors Report & improved selection criterion for SAC instructors. Document & record protection & storage procedures were revised – both are stored on Dropbox where information being accessible to all on the committee. Glen Warden is revising student training procedures together with instructor training guidelines, the latter once implemented will be disseminated via annual instructor seminars. Thanks again for doing this for us Glen and we can’t wait to see the end result! Just recently, we drafted a new Code of Conduct (to be approved here today). We also intend updating our Constitution.
September this year saw another CAA audit of our MOP. We fared far better with the CAA arriving at 4 observations with no non-conformances. Our MOP required a few changes but this did not affect the issuing of our certificate. I must thank the entire committee for the work they put in to get the MOP up to standard. I must however single out one of our committee members in particular. Quintin Hawthorne put in massive amounts of work revising the MOP on more than one occasion. The CAA commented that we have one of the best interpreted (requirements derived from CAR PART 149) and implemented MOP’s of all the ARO’s. Thanks, Q it is appreciated! I would also like to thank the CAA’s Claude Luthaga for his assistance in this regard.
To the committees that come after this one; fear not, the hard work has now been done. It is however important to ensure that the system is well maintained going forward.
Next up, aerobatic boxes. We were hoping to have Wings Park and Heidelberg aerobatic cylinders approved by now. For various reasons, mainly due to the lock-down, the approval has been delayed. I am however happy to report that submissions for both of these cylinders will be considered at the next NASCOM meeting due to take place in November. I know Dusty and Adam are keen to get a competition organised for Heidelberg shortly after approval. Mitch and company down at Wings Park continue to get their airfield prepped and ready for next year’s Eastern Cape Regionals. We hope to have the Western Cape submissions, namely Malmesbury, Swellendam and Delta 200 in for approval shortly. Once these cylinders are approved, the intention is to have a training camp down there to reinvigorate the area and hopefully get some new pilots involved in our sport. We also envisage the training of local judges which would free up the cost constraints of having regular competitions down there. Ingmar Bezuidenhout is hoping to get a box approved at Phalaborwa airfield. I am sure you’ll all agree, a winter comp in the Lowveld would be fantastic! We ask that all of our members support these initiatives by ensuring that they attend the competitions planned for these locations.
The Kitty Hawk Aerobatic cylinder is under pressure from the local community who are citing noise and safety concerns. The committee with assistance from the Aeroclub is currently dealing with this issue which seems to be more of a general aviation problem. The Kitty Hawk boys are obviously very fond of their box and we intend doing everything necessary to maintain that privilege.
The committee reviews the viability of our aerobatic cylinders on an annual basis. Should a cylinder fail to meet requirements as contained in our MOP, it is removed. Richards Bay and Springs aerobatic cylinders come to mind. Those that have read through our MOP will notice that the list of approved cylinders has been removed. We ask that members consult the CAA AIP ENR 5.5.49 for the list of approved performance zones. Please note that unless the particular aerobatic cylinder is in regular use, please consult with the committee before using it as there may be certain restrictions that have to be considered first.
At our last AGM, I outlined our objectives for the coming year. This basically revolved around grassroots growth and how we were going to achieve this. Training camps were organised throughout the year in the hopes of attracting pilots from the large RV fraternity in our country and its neighbours.
We started in June 2019 with the Tzaneen training camp. We then moved on to Wings Park, East London, Swakopmund in Namibia and then two training camps at Kitty Hawk, Pretoria (one just before and one just after lock-down). To get the word out to the general aviation population, we asked Garth Calitz at Flightline Weekly (www.flightlineweekly.com) to cover the events. Garth penned some terrific articles for us which no doubt brought interest to what we were doing.
The interest in these camps has been startling. Most camps were oversubscribed, in particular, the Kitty Hawk camps. Eugene probably has the numbers for this, but I am sure all of you have noticed the upswell in numbers of Sportsman and RV pilots at competitions over the last year. I count nine pilots at this event that are products of these camps and there are more that unfortunately could not attend this event. To all our new aerobatic pilots, thanks for giving it a go and welcome to this incredible sport!
The organisation of these events takes a monumental & time- consuming team effort! And there are many people on this team to thank.
Eugene du Preez
Eugene du Preez
Bertus du Preez
It must be noted that all of our instructors offered assistance as and where required.
Helm Ludwig – who was just too happy to get out of the Cape!
Garth Calitz – Flightline Weekly
Andre Venter – Flightline Weekly
Stacey van Zyl – SAC Instagram and Facebook updates
Kayle Woole - SAC Facebook updates
Going forward, we intend to continue with grassroots training camps. As already mentioned, we want to get down to the Western Cape. We also want to arrange a camp for pilots based in Kwazulu Natal. I personally can’t wait to get back up to Tzaneen or perhaps Phalaborwa for another camp.
We have realised with all the focus on development at the grassroots level, we have perhaps marginalised the training needs of our existing membership. In the year ahead, we envisage utilising the experience and skill set of our more experienced pilots and judges to improve your aerobatic flying. I am a firm advocate for incremental training. One camp a year seldom yields desired results. The plan is to arrange regular well- structured training camps as and where requested. More on this will follow in the next month or so.
To end, I would like to thank our committee for all the work put in over the past year. To all of our competitors, I wish you an enjoyable and above all, safe competition. Thank you.
Tempe, Bloemfontein 1 October 2020