by Rob Jonkers
This is the 2nd Speed Rally in Season 4 for 2022, which has been fraught with challenges to get going, what with a venue change, sky-rocketing fuel price and unseasonal weather. This is the 6th SAPFA event in as many months that has been affected by weather, seems that this year is jinxed in some way, what with following on of the two Covid years as well. So, now it seems a common term that everybody has now heard of “Cut off low” again made its appearance over SA, exactly a month later where the PTAR was also disrupted.
Strange that in mid winter having significant summer type rainfall in June. The initial weather prediction earlier in the week only showed cloudy conditions for Wednesday and Thursday, and as the week started to unfold, did the prediction see poorer conditions for Friday and Saturday, with all indictions that there would still be good enough conditions. Friday saw many arrivals after midday atter the morning low cloud had lifted, and test flights could be carried out of 5 new aircraft entries, four being new types not having flown in Speed Rallies before, an Ercoupe, a Maule, a Pioneer 300 and a Sequoia Falco.
The first Friday afternoon briefing was done at 6 PM, with a weather prognosis not very favourable but still showed promise of a window of clear enough weather in the early afternoon – shown on the spot graph for the local area.
Saturday morning dawned with rain, which although drying up a short while later with the cloud base rising, only two of the remaining competitors flew in, with five others still stuck at their fields. After holding three weather briefings at 9, 10 & 11 am, the event was scrubbed with an agreement to reconvene to Sunday where the weather was predicted to be clear and pristine. With everybody securing an additional night stay over, most of the teams and officials found their way to Ginelli’s for an excellent dinner and company, with a good fly-off finish before retiring for some good sleep…..
Sunday morning proved to start off in pristine cloudless and windless conditions, but icy cold with a high pressure system now dominating over the Highveld. However as the early morning unfolded the wind started picking up from the south east. After having 16 entries, the field was reduced to 11, 5 having had to withdraw not being available for the Sunday. After an 8h30 briefing by Iaan Myburgh, we got everybody ready for a 10h30 first take-off, with scrutineering actions and releasing papers 25 minutes prior take-off. Having had to change the take-off runway to 14 due to the 10+ kt wind, groups of 3 aircraft had to backtrack the runway to get into position. This worked out well, everybody got off onto their route, with the exception of Race 6 ZS-FMH who developed a flat tyre.
After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, with the tracks for a number being quite accurate, although some had wobbles, two had got significantly lost. The scores were released fairly quickly, and prize giving could be held at 13h15 before everybody would pack up for home.
For the Navigation Accuracy category, third place went to Lex and Christo Erasmus in their first time flight of their Ercoupe ZS-VCE, in 2nd place Apie Kotzee and Hendrik Loots in their Robinson R66 ZS-HRS, and in 1st place Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV.
For the Handicap/Speed category, third place went to Lex and Christo Erasmus in their Ercoupe ZS-VCE, in 2nd place Gareth Pollock & Marcus Nouwens in the Maule ZS-MNW, and in 1st place Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV.
Overall Winners in third place went to Gareth Pollock & Marcus Nouwens in the Maule ZS-MNW, in 2nd place Lex and Christo Erasmus in their Ercoupe ZS-VCE, and in 1st place Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV.
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, Iaan Myburgh doing the scoring, as well as taking up the Deputy Event Director role, Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for technical scrutineering, Chareen Atherton & Anthea Cronin for aircraft scrutineering, and Moira Wakeley for handling the Papers. Race Master David le Roux did some double duty also being the race starter, and arranged for a number of live video pod casts.
Also thanks to our headline sponsors Holborn Assets, Pilot Insure, Flying Eyes and our sponsored teams, Prompt Roofing, Beagle Tracking, Gem Air and Mnandi Signs.
Our next Speed Rally event will be in Groblersdal on the 27th August 2022.