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Sugarbird Morningstar Flying Club Air Navigation Race (ANR)

by Rayno Snyman

On a cool, windy Cape Town morning, members of Morningstar Flying Club gathered at Morningstar Airfield to compete in one of the fastest growing and very popular format in Navigation Rally Flying. The Air Navigation Race (ANR) format is a relatively new addition to rally flying and was recognised by the FAI as recently as 2016.

Traditional Rally flying is not much of a spectator sport unlike motor rallies and with today's world, sport has to go out to the people, and the ANR generates more excitement and tension than other formats and has a visual representation for spectators on the ground to see real-time what the competitors are doing.

The ANR format requires a crew of two, Pilot and Navigator, where the start and finish are timed at a selected speed and navigation needs to be carried out along narrow 0.4nm twisting corridors. Crews are handed their map with the printed corridor and are given thirty minutes to plan their flight. on return from their flight, a spot landing competition is held, two landing one powered and one glide approach is scored and worked into the final result.

Loggers are used to log the flight track in order to determine the final score. The crew with the least amount of penalties is the winning crew. Penalties are normally counted in seconds outside the corridor and start/finish time gates.

The morning kicked off with a briefing explaining the rules and safety regulations for the day. The participating teams were surprisingly diverse, young and old, extremely experienced and even pilots who are just starting out. Regardless of the weather conditions which we feared would delay the rally, the teams navigated the situation beautifully with no incidents and demonstrated incredible airmanship and skill.

Spectators who experienced a navigational rally for the first time held their breaths at each touch and go, powered and glide landings. The energy was buzzing from our teams and the supporting crowd. As quickly as the rally started, it came to end. Time flies when you are having fun. The day concluded with an energetic award ceremony once the organisers had time to download and score each participants track.

Ed Llewelyn and Christiaan du Plessis, in an American Champion Decathlon, were announced as the overall winners with a very respectable 708 points, competing in any rally event in a tandem seat aircraft is never an easy task making this win even more of an achievement.

Second place overall belonged to Richard Sauer and Griffen Moss in a Sling Aircraft Sling 2, with only four points separating them from the winners.

The husband and wife team of Henk and Ilse Oosthuizen came in Third overall in a Cessna 150 Aerobat with a total of 1015 points.

A special “Thank you” must go out to Sugarbird Gin who sponsored the event, without the generosity of great companies like this events of this nature would be all but impossible. Mauritz du Plessis, who has in the past represented South Africa in international competition, planned the route and assisted Mike Marshall the chief organiser of this exceptional event, he was well supported by a team from Morningstar Flying Club.

All & all, a very successful rally to participate in or to enjoy as a spectator. What a fun day it was! Looking forward to the next ANR to be held at Morningstar in the near future.