Parys Airfield one again came to life on Saturday 27 July, with pilots flying in from as far afield as Gaborone Botswana to compete in the fourth Parys Pylon time trials. All the competitors and visitors were greeted by a fairly cold winter's morning as expected in the Free State this time of the year. Fortunately the weather gods smiled on Parys and by 10:00 all present were doing the “onion” dance removing layer after layer of clothing as the day warmed up.
Three De Havilland Chipmunks flown in from Springs executed a beautiful fly-past joined by Carl Jensen in his Cessna C170B making up the four-ship.
After a wonderful buffet breakfast at the Parys Flying Club, all the competitors attended a very informal briefing. Scully Levine explained the new 1.8 nautical mile shortened course which consisted of 6 Pylons. The reason for the shortened course was to make the flying more exciting for both the spectators as well as the pilots. All contestants were requested to keep above the pylons when turning. Other than that, all they had to do was “turn left and fly fast”.
All competing pilots carried a GPS logger on board and their entire route can be plotted to within a meter of the flight path making timing very accurate. Unfortunately a few of the competitors were caught out when they missed some of the turning points causing their runs to be excluded from the final results.
Shortly after 10 am the racing started in near perfect conditions. The wind did pick up from time to time throughout the day but the conditions were excellent for both pilots and spectators. The racing was very exciting as similar types were divide into groups of two or three aircraft and they entered the course separated by a few hundred meters and on many occasions the rear aircraft caught up with the leaders making for some great racing. One of these “ding dong” battles was between the Vans RV7's of Frank King and Cliff Lotter who ended second and third on the overall standings, and the Vans RV8 of Neil Murray.
Trevor Warner from Centurion took the overall honours with a speed of 168.892 Knots or 312.785 Km/h in his beautiful RV7 ZU-FLV.
Close behind the heels of the top three was Karl Jensen in ZU-VAL, the immaculately polished Cessna 170B. The rest of the top ten were made up of Heinz Schweiger in a Piper 201T, Chris Briers in a Stinson 108-3, Sebastiaan Matla in the Stunning Diamond DA-20 followed by the two De Havilland Chipmunks expertly flown by Steve Brown and Ivan van der Schaar.
Not to be outdone by the fixed wing boys Eugene Couzyn made a very impressive run in an Alouette II clocking up a very respectable average speed of 149 Km/h.
During the day the crowd was not only entertained by the great racing. The Flying Lions and the Gabriel Wings aerobatic teams also gave flawless aerobatics displays. Johnny Smith displayed his new Spach 342 ZS-AXA in the colours of “Radio Pulpit”.
The turnout was wonderful with 43 entrants taking part in a wide variety of aircraft including historical beauties like the FA24 Fairchild flown by MG Morris. Congratulations and Thanks to all involved including all sponsors. Pylon Racing events will grow from strength to strength in South Africa. See you all at the next event in October 2013.