By Garth Calitz
The Ekurhuleni East Flying Club hosted the finale of the 2022 Speed Rally season and fortunately, the weather was great for flying. The 2022 season started off at Witbank airfield in March followed by the Middelburg event in June, both of these events were affected by some terrible weather caused by cut-off low systems moving through the country. The third event in the 2022 season was held at Groblersdal in August, the weather for this one was perfect just a bit hot.
The entries for the Springs Rally sadly weren’t too great with only twelve teams entering, two main reasons were identified for the poor participation the first being the astronomically high cost of fuel and secondly, many teams that are regular “Speedsters” have qualified to represent South Africa in the World Rally Flying Championships that will be taking place at Brits in November, these teams opted to practice for the worlds which is a completely different format.
Talking about the World Championships, all the new teams representing SA that have been introduced to competition flying have come through the Speed Rally format and moved to Rally Flying from there. When the Speed Rally format was invented by Jonty Esser and Rob Jonkers one of their objectives was to introduce new competitors to competition flying, this objective has definitely been met and surpassed.
The Race Master for 2022, David le Roux, rounded up all the competitors for the briefing which was held under the roof at the Flying Club. All the teams that were introduced were issued their race numbers. Iaan Myburgh, the Competition Director, then briefed everyone on the rules of the competition, gave a basic idea of where the route will take them and finally gave an indication of what the weather was expected to do for the duration of the competition.
After a minor glitch with the papers, some competitors were issued with previous rallies papers by accident, a decision was made to push the take-off times by twenty-five minutes. Soon all the aircraft were making their way to the start, with the slowest aircraft leaving first and the faster aircraft having to wait until their slot arrived. The first team to take to the air was Tarryn Myburgh joined by her father Derek Orford in a Jabiru SP470, the final team was Leon Joubert and Jonty Esser in a super fast Lancair ES.
The last aircraft to take off passed everyone on the route and passed the finish line first just a few aircraft lengths ahead of the Sling 2 crewed by the father and son team of Hendrik and Jandre Loots. Finishing first does not necessarily mean the team has won, that will only be determined once the routes have been downloaded and accuracy determined.
Alan Evan-Hanes and Kathy Burke had a scary moment when their Sequoia Falco F8L suffered a momentary loss of power, fortunately, Alan managed to get the donkey firing again and they decided to return to the airfield as soon as they could.
Once everyone was safe on the ground it was time for the scoring team to get busy with downloading loggers and scoring the competitors. Through the afternoon the individual scores were given to the teams before they made their way to guest houses or homes to prepare for the gala dinner.
The gala dinner took take place in Gavin Brown’s Classic Wings hangar with a great backdrop of some of his classic aircraft. The décor was being prepared during the day, with guests of around 60 starting to arrive at 6 pm. Everybody was seated by 07h00 and Race Master David le Roux opened the proceedings with thanks to all the helpers, officials and the Springs Flying Club for hosting this event. The main Season Sponsor Holborn Assets gave a short brief on their business, and also drew the lucky winner of their money jar. David informed all about planning being done for 2023’s fixtures that would be concluded within the next week. David also recognized Rob Jonkers as the previous competition director for all the work carried out on Speed Rallies since its inception to create the foundation on which the future of the sport can be built. It is now more relevant than ever to bring in new competitors to enjoy the sport.
With the main course enjoyed by all, it was time for prize giving, firstly the placings for the Springs event, where first place went to Leon Joubert & Jonty Esser in their Lancair, second place went to Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling and in third place Sean Cronin and Roger Ford in their Jabiru.
The overall season placings went to the father & son team of Johan Whiteman and Quintin Kruger in their Piper 235, in second place Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in their C210 and in third place Leon Joubert & Jonty Esser in their Lancair. In fact, the season standings had the top 3 placed identically in the Handicap and Accuracy categories as well. The formal proceedings were closed off with Leon Joubert and his band WASP to get everybody into the mood for party time and good music from a bygone era.
Many Thanks to all the officials who put in the effort to make the Speed rally what it has become, David le Roux as the Race Master, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Iaan Myburg as Competition Director and scorer, Sean Cronin & Martin Meyer doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane for Century Avionics for GPS & Fuel Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw & Anthea Cronin on Scrutineering. ATC from the Special Air Events team is always on hand to support our events. Anneke Pretorius put together a fantastic gala dinner spread with all the décor and trimmings fitting for a black tie event. Thanks are also extended to the team at Springs, Raymond Ayre, who graciously supported the officials in their hangar and Gavin Brown for the use of the Classic Wings hangar for the gala dinner.
Without sponsors, these types of events would not be possible, thanks to Holborn Assets, Prompt Roofing, Beegle Tracking, Gemair Maintenance, Century Avionics, 4 Track Mover.