So you have been on a few cross-country flights. You have visited all the airfields relatively close to you and now you are flying around the patch but this is not the excitement you had in mind when you spent thousands to get your pilot's license. Why don't you join Frank Eckard and Mary de Klerk on one of their SAPFA Nav Rallies? Frank and Mary organise and host these rallies on a monthly basis and will host one in your area very soon.
On Saturday 25 February 2012 Frank hosted a NAV Rally at the beautiful Kitty Hawk Aerodrome just outside Pretoria. The day started off with a superb breakfast inside the Kitty Hawk Clubhouse and the safety briefing took place at 09:00. With all participants present, Frank explained the rules of the competition and the different classes of the event. The Open class is a serious competition with all the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) rules applicable and contenders in this class used this event to qualify for participation during the SAPFA National RallyChampionships scheduled for the 10th of May at Tedderfield. A Fun class was added to allow newcomers an opportunity to get a feel for this internationally recognised sport and as the name implies, to have some fun. The resident safety officer Nigel Musgrave also assumed responsibility of the event and made sure that pilots in the competition were acquainted with the procedures.
Every team (pilot and navigator) received a set of maps to prepare their route and also received a range of photographs to be identified during the flight. This is not a speed race. Every team nominate a groundspeed at which they intend to fly the rally and with the use of GPS prohibited, they must account for wind and track deviation to ensure that they cross checkpoints at the nominated times. A GPS tracking device is placed in every aircraft to verify these speeds and times accurately.
In the true spirit of this fun event, Frank made sure everyone knew what to do and like usual, teams played some mind games with each other just to add to the laughter. A final windscreen wash is also part of the preparation and with maps plotted, time calculations completed and added to the maps, the teams were ready to start.
First off were Frederica de Micheli and Donald O Conner in their pressurised Cessna 210 and the rest of the pack followed at five minute intervals.
The rally lasted about one hour and was ended with a spot-landing challenge which was excluded from the final scores and was purely added as practice for the events to come.
The winning team was Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk in a Cessna 150 (ZS-IWD) with Thys van der Merwe and Mary de Klerk in second place with their Cessna 172 (ZS-CNZ). The Savannah of Rob Kennedy and Wikus Kritsinger came in at third position.
It was unfortunate that thunderstorms approached Kitty Hawk from the south and many had to depart before the official results were announced. However, this was probably the most fun I have had during an aviation event this year even though I didn't participate. I can certainly recommend this to any pilot. Not only does it provide lots of fun, it will also hone your navigation and flying skills.