The judges and assistants at Sunday's competition
Aerobatics is alive and well in South Africa. So far in 2015 the Cape Regionals, North West Regionals, Free State Regionals and SA Nationals have been held at various venues across the country. Still to follow are the Gauteng Regionals, KZN Regionals and Ace of Base.
During the SA Nationals that took place at Klerksdorp from 15 to 18 July the unlimited class was won by Nigel Hopkins in his MX2 which sadly broke up in flight whilst he was practising for the World Aerobatic Championships, second place went to Barrie Eeles in a Sbach with Neville Ferreira in a Slick 540 in third. The Freestyle also went to Nigel whilst Barrie and Neville swopped places.
Ten pilots, from as far afield as Durban in KZX and Bloemfontein in the Free State, entered the 2015 Judges Trophy held at Vereeniging in almost perfect weather on Sunday 13 September. Missing was, amongst others, Nigel Hopkins, Johnnie Smith, Patrick Davidson and Neville Ferreira.
Aerobatic competitions are divided into the following classes: Graduate Known, 2015 Classic Known, RV Known, Sportsman Glider, Sportsman Known - Power, Yak 52 & Intermediate Known, Advanced Known & Unlimited Known. On Sunday only four of the classes namely Sportman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited were contested. Pilots compete in the classes according to aircraft type or according to a grading system.
Walking through the sequence of loops and rolls in the known sections is as much part of the event as the actual flying is.
Safety in acrobatic competition is taken very seriously with entrants restricted to minimum heights according to their grading. The wearing of parachutes can be a life saver as demonstrated by Nigel's escape when his MX broke up.
The competition was fierce in all classes but back on the ground the camaraderie was evident as advice was freely offered and accepted.
During the lunch break a race between the Sbach flown by Barrie Eeeles and a BMW SRR was organised and I might be wrong but I do think the Sbach won.
Adam Pucjlowski in a Zlin 526F took the Sportman Class with 74.54% followed by Derek Bird in a Decathlon with 70.61% in second. Roger Deare in a Zlin 50 with 68.67% was placed third with Conrad Botha in a Slick with 65.33% in fourth.
Cliff Lotter in a Zlin scored 72.16% to take the Intermediate Class with Andrew Blackwood-Murray also in a Zlin 50 was placed second with 61.08%
The Advanced Class went to Steve Brown who scored 75.23% in a Slick 360 whilst Elton Bondi with 70.91% in an Extra 300 finished second. Steve, who achieved the highest overall percentage possible, was also the winner of the Judges Trophy.
Kenny Chiang Extra in a 300 scored 61.41% to win the Unlimited Class whilst Barrie Eeles who scored 57.09% in a Sbach finished second.
The judges for the day were John Gaillard (chief Judge), Quintin Hawthorne, Cindy Weber, Brian Van der Merwe, Geoff Sprenger, Keaton Perkins ably assisted by a team of assistants. Barrie Eels and Elton Bondi jointly acted as contest director with Natalie Stark the scoring director.