Parys Aerodrome was once again the venue for an exciting day of Pylon Racing. Saturday 19 July's event was predominantly for the microlighting fraternity. Unfortunately due a to a combination of very cold weather and three other major aviation events held on the same day the turnout was a not as good as expected.
A steaming coffee to chase away the cold welcomed all aviators to Parys as the temperature dropped well below zero. Before enjoying a tasty breakfast at the Restaurant the competing pilots attended a safety briefing to outline the rules of the competition and once again the phrase "Fly fast and Turn Left" came to the fore.
The Eqestra Flying Lions and Gabriel Wings teams accompanied by Ellis Levine in the Mazda Zoom Zoom extra 300 dropped in for a quick visit on route to Bethlehem Airshow. The Flying Lions did a few circuits of the coarse showing off their skill before leaving on the final leg of their trip to Bethlehem.
All the spectators were then treated to an aerobatic display by the Gabriel Wings Pitts Specials and as an added bonus, the no 4 spot was filled by the Extra 300, I believe this may be the first time this has been done.
The competition flying was kicked of by a trio of Quick GT450's flown by Vincent Andrews, Grant Raubenheimer and Barry Culligan. Unfortunately all three of them missed turning points and were not considered for the final results. They flew very impressive times reaching average speeds of 100.6, 99.5 and 97 Mph respectively, not bad for a mere 100hp weight shift aircraft.
Chris Briers in his Beautiful Stinson 108, the overall winner for the day, was joined by Henk Koster in his Jabiru J450 and JP Grobler in his almost brand new Sling 4. Chris managed an average speed of 135.2 Mph with Henk reaching a speed of 129.5 followed closely by JP reaching125.3 Mph.
Micro Aviation were represented by Otto Stumke and Jan Erasmus both flying Bantum B22J's. Following very different strategies with Jan never exceeding 30 feet off the deck and Otto flying a lot higher, they registered very close times reaching an average of over 82 Mph. Otto just managed to keep the door closed on Jan by a mere 0.12 Mph difference between the two of them.
The final contestant was Quintin Scott in his stunning Victa Airtourer Super 150, Quintin Squeezed into second overall with a respectable 131.9 Mph.
The Pylon racing concept was born in 1909 with the first annual Gordon Bennett Aviation Trophy being held in Reims in France, and consisted of 2 laps of a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) circuit. It was not a direct race, but a time trial with competitors taking off separately. As aircraft became faster and their engines more reliable, the distance to be covered was increased. The Race was held from 1909 to 1920, unfortunately missing the years between 1914 and 1919 due to the First World War. Glenn Curtiss , the first winner managed a speed of 46.77 Mph in a Curtiss No. 2 . Over the next few years speeds increased dramatically with the 1920 winner Joseph Sadi-Lecointe achieving 168.73 mph in a Nieuport 29. Since then this form of aviation sport has grown from strength to strength with the Reno air races being the most popular competition worldwide at the moment with aircraft reaching speeds of well over 500 Mph.
Parys has fast become the home of Pylon Racing in South Africa, hosting many competitions every year and coupled with the great hospitality shown by Parys airfield the racing will definitely grow from strength to strength.
1. ZS-JKV, Chris Briers, 117.442 Knots, 135.15 Mph, 217.503 Km/h - OK
2. ZU-AIM, Quinton Scott, 114.703 Knots, 131.998 Mph, 212.43 Km/h - OK
3. ZU-DNO, Henk Koster, 112.389 Knots, 129,334 Mph, 208.144 Km/h - OK
4. ZU-JPS, JP Grobler, 108.855 Knots, 125.268 Mph, 201.599 Km/h - OK
5. ZU-FLK, Otto Stumke, 71.775 Knots 82,597 Mph, 132.928 Km/h - OK
6. ZU-FEO, Jan Erasmus, 71.644 Knots 82.447 Mph, 132.685 Km/h - OK
7. ZU-ELS, Vincent Anders, 87.389 Knots, 100.565 Mph, 161.844 Km/h - Excluded
8. ZU-FST, Grant Raubenheimer, 86.493 Knots, 99.535 Mph, 160.186 Km/h - Excluded
9. ZU-KWK, Barry Culligan, 84.301 Knots, 97.012 Mph, 156.125 Km/h - Excluded