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Race for Rhinos – Race Day Two and Gala Dinner

3 Jul 2018

As dawn broke over Sua City and “Revelry” had once again been sounded by Brian Emmenis  and his dedicated team from Capital Sounds, there was a nervous energy as all the crews quickly gobbled down their breakfasts and made their way to their aircraft for the final days racing. 

Activity on the Airfield

Soon the starting grid was packed with aircraft rearing to go, Former President Ian Khama once again got proceedings underway  with a wave of the Botswana Flag. On Race day two unlike the first day all starts are staggered according to their handicap speeds, if every crew fly’s a perfect round at their handicap speed everyone will arrive at the finish gate at exactly the same time.

President Ian Khama

Starting Grid

First off at exactly 10AM was the Piper Tri-Pacer  PA-22 (Race 108) of Richard and Timothy Fair which was theoretically the slowest aircraft in the pack.

Race 108 Piper Tri-Pacer  PA-22

The field then got the go ahead to take-off with varying time intervals, sometimes there were three aircraft hurtling down the runway at the same time. Even with the short intervals it took almost two hours to get the entire field airborne. The last to take to the air was a Beechcraft  Duke B-60 (race 120) crewed by John and Greg Urquhart.

Race 120 Beechcraft  Duke B-60

All the ground crew had about an hour to rest before all hell broke loose,  Sua city International then became the busiest airport in the world with an aircraft arriving every 20 seconds for almost an hour. At times there were up to fourteen aircraft approaching over the pan simultaneously, making  life very busy for DJ and his team of ACT’s in the tower despite this they did a sterling job of getting everyone on the ground safely. The Ground Marshals also had their hands full to get all the aircraft parked without causing a bottle neck.

Ground Marshals at Work

The first five aircraft to arrive were ushered to Race HQ if they had passed all the turning points they were likely to be on the podium later at the Gala Dinner. The first two aircraft to arrive were in fact placed in their arrival positions.

 First five aircraft to cross through the finish gate

Race HQ became a hive of activity as pilots checked in their loggers and sealed envelopes, everyone eager to find out how they did but they all had to wait for the gala dinner where the final results were to be announced.

Race HQ

Crews checking in

While all the checking and cross checking was going on the Hon. Tshekedi Khama  Minister of Tourism in Botswana joined Brian in the commentary tower to have a chat about  the benefits of the Race for Rhinos to Botswana and wildlife conservation in Southern Africa. Brian known by South Africans as “Mr Airshow” kept everyone entertained and informed throughout the race with his usual charismatic commentary.

Minster Khama with Brian Emmenis

After the organised chaos a few pilots took the opportunity to get airborne and go on a sightseeing flight around the pans as this was impossible during the race.

Andrew and Kendra Evans

The Airshow portion of the day was kicked off by the Puma Energy’s Flying Lions in a beautiful four ship display in their Harvards. Puma Energy together with Skeerpoort Versprieders took care of all the fuel needs for the entire race without their contribution the race would never have taken place.

Puma Energy Flying lions

The first individual display was Nigel Hopkins in his Porsche Extra 330SC. Nigel took part in the race in his Vans RV-7, he was joined by Jason Beamish his Navigator for the event.

Nigel Hopkins head-on

Nigel was then joined by the rest of Team X-Treme in their Hi-impact four ship aerobatic display the other members of Team X-treme, Mark Hansen and Mark Sampson also competed in the race in a Vans RV8.

Team X-treme

The Raptors comprising of Pierre Gouws, Ryan Beaton, Dion Raath and Trevor Warner then took to the air delivering a stunning display in there Rv-7’s and RV-8’s.

Raptors

Neville Ferreira then got everyone holding their collective breath as he threw his Slick 540 around the sky as if it was a model aircraft.

Neville Ferreira

Once again the RV pilots came together to do a beautiful twelve ship formation, it isn’t often we get to see so many RV’s in the air simultaneously.

RV Formation

Pierre Gouws broke off as the other  RV’s were landing and joined up with the largest single engine Bi-plane in the world, the Antanov AN-2  Little Annie flown by Father and son team  Mark and Jon-Marc Hill.

Little Annie and the RV-8

After a fly-by by two Cessna 208 Caravans the Flying Lions took to the air again, this time to perform their famous dusk display with lights shining through the smoke creating the illusion of Harvard’s with afterburners.

 Cessna Caravan

Harvard’s dusk display

Just when everyone thought the show was over the Flying Lions returned for a flypast and to the amazement of everyone they pulled off a four ship water-skiing manoeuvre, this was really the highlight of the show.

Harvard’s water-skiing

Gala Dinner

After all the excitement it was time to get dressed up for the Gala Dinner  this year’s theme was 70’s Aviation and most of the five hundred odd people went all out to fit the bill.

Dressing the Part   

Minister Khama was once again called on to say a few words by Master of Ceremonies Brain Emmenis, The minister had the audience in stiches with his very humoristic speech but soon got down to the business of day, Rhino poaching  which is a scourge of the African continent and is driving Rhinos to the brink of extinction. The Honourable Minister thanked all the participants for taking part and in the process helping the Botswana people to safe guard there Rhino population.

Minister Khama

Chris Briers the visionary behind the Race for Rhinos then took to the podium, he thanked all the sponsors, volunteers and participants without who this event could never take place. Chris also announced that “The 2018 Race for Rhinos” had broken the previous record and had become the biggest Air Race of its type in the world.

Chris Briers

 
Mr Hentie de Wet flanked by his brothers called on everyone to dig deep in their pockets and auctioned off number "69" for next years race the bid was finally closed on 25000 Pula all the proceeds were donated to the conservation of Rhinos in Botswana. The Matsieng Flying Club then announced that they will be donating a Rhino trailer to Botswana Wildlife and called on individuals and companies to donate 5000 Pula each and in return they would receive a steel plaque that would be fixed to the trailer, thirty two of these plaques were sold.

 De Wet Brothers  

Rob Jonkers was called upon to show some of the Perfect, Good, Not so good and of course the totally Pear-Shaped  tracks of the day, after a good laugh the audience calmed down as the long anticipated moment arrived.

Rob Jonkers

The moment everyone was waiting for had finally arrived Brain once again took the microphone to announce the prize winners.

 

THE KOOS COETZER TROPHY awarded to the aircraft achieving the fastest overall speed

JZ and  Jannie Moolman  Race 74  (ZS-PCV) Piper Aerostar  

 

THE BEGINNERS TROPHY  to the first team with less than 500 hours total time combined

Juan Pierre Swart and  Janhendrik Jacobsz   Race 54 (ZS-KSO) Cessna 182

 

THE ARC CUP  to the first placed Turbocharged aircraft  

Willie and Wikus du Plessis  Race 64 (ZS-WDP) Cessna T210R

 

THE JACK ONDERSTALL TROPHY  to the first placed NTC aircraft and crew

Stephan Fourie and Derek Bird Race 99 (ZU-SAX) Van's RV-10

 

AERONAUTICAL INSTRUMENTATION TROPHY  Best handicap Performance on day 2

Richard Fair Timothy Fair  Race 108 (ZS-CET) Piper Tri-Pacer PA-22

 

CENTURY AVIONICS TROPHY  best handicap Performance on day 1

Michiel and Greyling Jansen  Race 25 (ZU-NKC) Aveko Evolution VL-3

 

THE RACE FOR RHINOS TROPHY  3rd Place

Stephan Fourie and Derek Bird Race 99 (ZU-SAX) Van's RV-10

 

THE RACE FOR RHINOS TROPHY 2nd Place

Richard Fair Timothy Fair  Race 108 (ZS-CET) Piper Tri-Pacer PA-22

 

THE RACE FOR RHINOS TROPHY Overall winner

Michiel and Greyling Jansen  Race 25 (ZU-NKC) Aveko Evolution VL-3

 

The festivities then carried on until the wee hours of the morning.

 

Sunday morning broke and everyone reluctantly departed for home, happy that they had the honour of attending the Greatest Air Race in the World.

 

Race for Rhinos is definitely one event for any aviation enthusiasts bucket list and I hope there will be many more to come. See you all next year again!!


Memorable Moments Fro Race for Rhinos 2018