The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) hosted the 11 Rand Airport Challenge fun rally at Rand Airport. As usual Frank and Cally Eckard did a sterling job of preparing the flight maps, photographs and everything else needed. Frank should really be getting to the stage that he could organise a fun rally in his sleep seeing that this is the one hundred and first one that he has organised in the last few years.
The weather in the morning looked a bit dodgy but as the take off times got closer the weather seemed to be behaving. Unfortunately a fairly large patch of low cloud and rain moved directly across the route and some of the contestants were forced to abandon their attempts. A cloud base of 600ft agl was reported rendering conditions too dangerous. Fortunately not many of the entrants were affected as the weather cleared pretty quickly.
Mark Drutman did not have a navigator and asked me to join him, offering me the opportunity of seeing the rally from a new perspective. The immense planning that goes in to the route is daunting for a absolute novice like myself, but as always Cally was quick to lend a hand and explain the finer points of rally flying and preparing the all important flight map with headings, minute markers and off course the time expected over each turning point. I encourage any pilot that has not yet taken part in a Fun Rally to give it a try the lessons learned may prove very valuable in your future flying. For anyone that is interested the next one will be held on the 28th Feb at Bethlehem airfield.
Two teams delivered world class flights they were Marc and Natasha Gregson (ZS-CET) and the veteran team of Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer(ZS-KEZ), both of these teams completed the course without incurring a single penalty point which is almost unheard of, and so doing secured joint 1st place. Mark Backo and Leon Bouttell (ZU-FWS) were right on their heels with only nine penalty points for a very slight navigation error.
The team of Mike Blyth and Andrew Pittman (ZU-TAF) from the Airplane Factory, Manufacturer of the Sling range of aircraft, flew an amazing run with only incurring 40 bonus points. Considering this was their first rally it was very well done. Next up in 4th place was the Ludwig Ehrke and Nick Berriman (ZU-SPA) from U-Fly Training Academy with a very respectable score of 188.
Henry Adams and Liezl De Bruin (ZU-FTV) from Panorama airfield held on to 5th place with a hard earned 248. 6th place also belonged to U-Fly Academy with Damian Rogans and Neil Fenton (ZS-OWB) with a score of 346. Kobus Jacobs and Jeanus Erasmus who flew all the way from Nelspruit to compete achieved 7th spot in the KitFox (ZU-FKW) with a score of 531.
8th and 9th positions were claimed by two more teammates from Panorama Airfield Alan Stewart and Richard Cook (ZU-ZAP) and Luis Ramos and Leon de Villers (ZU-FGV). Mark Durtman and myself managed 10th position in ZS-MPE. 11th position went to Nick Christodoulou and Andre Kluyts ZS-EGZ from Wits flying club, John and Chris Shaw( ZS-IFY) held on to grab 12th spot with Carl Dollenberg and Sean Murphy (ZS-IRL) coming in in 13th place.
Rand Management decided to wave all landing fees for the competitors in order to promote sport even more. The National Team has in recent years done very well, the Guys achieved and overall 5th place in the last world champs held in Poland in 2014, which is a great achievement, unfortunately the contestants taking part must pay their own way as there is no support financially from government level.
Wonderful prizes were donated by Comav Risk Services, Comav specialise in aviation and wildlife insurance , Avimap as always supplied a range of mapbooks to be given away to the top performers on the day.