The National Convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association of South Africa is traditionally held every second year at Margate on the Natal South Coast whilst it is hosted by various chapters the alternate year.
Archie Kemp's Cessna 195 with the terminal building and control tower in the background
Margate is an extremely popular holiday destination that offers a choice of accommodation to suit all pockets and requirements, restaurants and all the facilities to make for a pleasant breakaway. The beauty of the South Coast is a aviators dream whilst Margate Regional Airfield, with it tarred runway and fuel and other facilities are the ideal venue for the EAA's premier event. Margate is also the base of the Margate Light Plane Club who graciously made their facilities available to the EAA for use during the event.
The only disadvantage is the rather unpredictable weather at the coast and inland over Drakensberg that makes less than ideal flying conditions and this year, like in the past, the weather turned nasty on the Sunday and more than half of the visitors scurried back to their home fields. The quickly changing conditions also contribute to a large number of potential visitors opting to rather not attend than take the change to get stranded away from home.
The Airfield is under control of the Local Metro Council who granted permission for the EAA to use the field and who also waved all landing fees for the weekend.
The EAA's Mike Visagie with from left to right Councillor Sarah Nkomo and her daughter Gcinkuhle, cousin Nadia Asman and Me Thenjiswa Caluza the Branch Treasurer
I flew down from Brits Airfield in the North West Province with Ron van Leer in his superb Europa Mono-wheel and we landed at Glenside to meet with a number of other pilots, stretch our legs and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at the Waffle Hut which is a brisk 1 km walk from the airfield. The weather was perfect when 1.5 hours later we landed at Margate.
Initially arrivals were slow until the "Red Brigade" of Chapter 1262 from Wings Park, East London arrived over head in a loose formation from down south. All were dressed in their Red T-shirts with their names or nicknames on the back, the members of this Chapter's passion for aviation and the EAA was evident for all to see. Amongst the aircraft that they arrived in were two Fly Babies, a Hatz Biplane, Piper Super Cruiser, Cessna 140 and Savannah S.
Saturday dawned and the weather was superb but already the bad conditions forecast for Sunday had pilots worried. The presentations were all well attended and more aircraft arrived as the day continued.
Rob Jonkers Director of AeroSud and Neil de Lange General Manager of RAASA
Rob did a presentation on Precision Rally Flying and the Paris Airshow whilst Neil of RAASA informed the audience on new regulations
Pilots Post's Juri Keyter and Shackleton Navigator Horace Blok
Juri presented a video report on Pilots Post's visit to AirVenture and then Horace told the story of the crash of the Shackleton whilst en-route to the UK Airshows
EAA National President Paul Lastruci and Aeroclub Chairman Jeff Earle
Paul explained the new Insurance scheme for approved persons whilst Jeff gave a brief talk on the Aero Club
Twenty aircraft were entered in the various categories for judging. A number unfortunately did not arrive by the time judging started. Judging was undertaken by two teams and the general consensus was that the standard of build of the aircraft entered for judging was extremely high.
Best Tube and Fabric Aircraft Bearhawk Patrol ZU-BHP Wayne Giles 322 - Johannesburg
EAA Trophy for Best Plans Built Aircraft Hatz CB-1 ZU-FWO Niels Andersen 1262 - East London
EAA Best Professionally Built NTCA Savannah S Taildragger ZU-ICP John Waterson 1262 - East London
Pertec Shield for Best Homebuilt All Metal Construction Vans RV-ZU-ID John Herber 322 - Johannesburg
Piper Concours d' Elegance Award Piper PA-12 Cruiser ZS-BIG James Wardle 1262 - East London
EAA Trophy for Best Rotorcraft Award and Best Warbird Gazelle ZU-HHP Eugene Couzyn 322 - Johannesburg
Best Restoration Award Taylorcraft BC-12-D ZS-BLD Claus Keuchel 322 - Johannesburg
The EAA Grand Champion Homebuilt Award went to the Lancair Super ESX ZU-LNC built by Leon Joubert of Chapter 322, Johannesburg
The EAA Concours d' Elegance Award went to the Onex ZU-ONX built by Jonathan Low of Chapter 1502, East Coast
The Aeronca Chief, SA's "oldest aircraft" was one of the visitors
The AGM took place on Sunday afternoon and although most visitors had left sufficient had remained to from a quorum.
During a lavish dinner the following members were the recipients of Meritorious Awards:
Contribution to Safety and Promotion of Recreational Aviation Mike Visagie, EAA National Vice-President
Best Chapter Contribution and best attendance to the 2015 EAA National Convention. Chapter 322, Johannesburg
Dave Smith Memorial Cup Award - most Enthusiastic Member Marie Reddy, EAA National and Chapter 322 Secretary
Most Enthusiastic Lady Member Trixie Heron, EAA Chapter 322, Johannesburg
Youngest EAA Pilot Flying to the 2015 Convention Greg Clegg, Chapter 322, Johannesburg
EAA Award for Furthest Distance Flown to attend 2105 Convention Hartog (Horace), Blok ZU-EAA (from Mossel Bay) Chapter 322, Johannesburg
Commentary was done by the imitable Captain Karl Jensen the Chairman of Chapter 322. Now retired, Karl would have no problem finding employment as a DJ at any of the numerous radio stations. Gary Joubert a stalwart at most KZN events and Russel Knott expertly handled ground control and marshalling.
The convention arrangements was expertly handled by Marie Reddy who is an events planner, pilot, EAA Member and dedicated member of the Teddy Build Team. The event went off without a hitch or any serious incidents. Although only about 70 pilots flew in and despite the weather gods intervening it was none the less a success. The 2016 Convention will be held at Mossel Bay.