by Rob Jonkers Photos by Garth Calitz and Andre Venter
The South African Power Flying Association held a very successful Speed Rally at the Aero Club Centenary Airweek at Middelburg and is our 2nd event in the third season. It was decided to hold this Speed Rally on Freedom day as the date of choice in keeping with the Centenary celebrations of the Aero Club that featured most of the Recreational Aviation Sections over the four days. Monday turned out to be a relatively quiet day, where we could have rather rescheduled the rally but was too late to make any changes.
There were 20 racers that entered, some stalwarts could not join due to other long weekend commitments, giving us as organisers a cue that we need to be very choosy to pick dates that are not in conflict with other activities. The weather outlook look to be virtually pristine, with little wind, thus could not have wished for better.
With some arrivals on Monday, we had Mauritz carry out a number of test flights to establish a handicap speed, as there were a number of new entrants, who in fact had joined to be able to practice for the up and coming PTAR. The afternoon initial briefing started at 18h30, with Rob Jonkers who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turnpoints, distance, departure and arrivals protocol, and a weather outlook. After this Jonty did his signature event promotion of handing out race numbers, where after the club caterer provided a nice dinner spread, before retiring for the evening.
Tuesday morning dawned with beautiful weather, the hot air balloons were up and about traversing the field taking advantage of the wind currents. The briefing was held at 08h00 am and was concluded at around 08h30, where everybody dispersed first for a group photo and then to park their aircraft and prepare for the scrutineers. The route for the day was intended to be a scenic one in a similar area as the previous Witbank event north of Loskop Dam, although part of the route went closer to the eastern hills before returning to cross the 20/20 gravel runway.
With all the competitors off towards the northwest, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints, especially TP10 which was the last turn point before the home run – which by the way was the same last turn point used in the 2019 event. The finish was relatively close, only one competitor having got lost somewhat, one having great difficulty in keeping track, and three aircraft following each other having all made the same mistake…. Will teach them not to follow the aircraft in front.
After all the teams had returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results. This time there were no major scoring issues, and the results were available for the prize-giving at 2 PM. The prizes are organised into 3 categories, Overall, Handicap, Accuracy, where teams that have featured in the top three in one category, don’t feature in the other categories, ensuring that all have a fair chance at winning a trophy. These scores are also added to the leader board in this manner. The following table shows the top placings.
The following are the individual handicap and accuracy results.
Many thanks to the Middelburg Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, supporting with logistics and great meals available throughout the day, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos doing the scoring, Chester Chandler on handicapping, Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for Avionic Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw for Aircraft Scrutineering, Liz, Clarissa, Leonie, Louna for handing out competition papers to the crews, Mauritz for Test Flights and starting, Bernhard & Adrian as ground marshalls and starting, we for sure had a stronger crew as compared to Witbank earlier this year. Thanks also extended to Santjie White of the ARCC who always watches over us.
Also thanks to our sponsors, Aircraft Unlimited being our signature Speed Rally Brand Sponsor, Flightline Weekly for sponsoring the race numbers, and our team sponsors, Prompt Roofing, Fast Flame Laser cutting, Century Avionics, Beegle Micro trackers, JB Switchgear.
Our next Speed Rally event will be in Secunda on the 28th of August 2021
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