The original Sun 'n Fun is an annual week-long fly-in and airshow usually held during late March or early April at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida in the USA. The first weekend fly-in, called Mid-Winter Sun 'n Fun, was held in January 1975 and 1,980 guests and 365 aircraft were present.
The South African version is an initiative of Chapter 322 of the Experimental Aircraft Association of South Africa and has been held great with success in Nylstroom, Rustenburg, Groblersdal, Bloemfontein and Brits. The Brits Flying Club was again the host this year and like last year the club pulled out all of the stops to present a relaxed and laid back memorable weekend filled with aviation fun and camaraderie.
A very laid back Capt. Karl Jensen and marshal supreme Paul Sabatier
Capt. Jensen with Richard Nicolson a previous organiser of Sun 'n Fun and currently organiser of the extremely Taidraggers Fly in and photo 2 with Jason Beamish who sponsored by Red Bull flew at the recently held Dubai Airshow
Unfortunately it seems as if the weather gods were not sufficiently appeased and for a while, when some badly needed rain fell, it seems as if all that was to remain of Sun 'n Fun was the fun part. Fortunately we are in South Africa and not in Sun 'n Fun in Florida USA where tornados have regularly created havoc. The rain soon stopped but the clouds remained low and a large number of visitors scurried home.
Dr. Mike Brown and his Saab Safir
Some of the group of happy youngsters that had a flip in Heystek and Michelle Pretorius's Antonov AN2
The air traffic controllers that offered an advisory service were kept quite busy. A total of 107 arrivals were counted and 186 movements were recorded.
Camping was allowed on the fenced in area around the clubhouse and aviation related business who support general aviation where allowed to erect gazebos' in which to display their products.
Comav Insurance erected a gazebo to supply shade to the photographers
Whilst Andrea Antell of Aviation Direct shared Neil Bowden's AirVenture Tours gazebo
More fun was had by those that entered the fun navigational rally organised by Rob Jonkers. The rally, entered by 14 teams, differed slightly for the usual format as Rob Jonkers report.
“This year's EAA Sun & Fun flying event was planned somewhat differently from previous years where precision rallies were held, with a view that for EAA members a more fun flying event was needed to be tried out. This task was left to and Martin Meyer and I to devise a new kind of rally format, a big risk to take in the realm of the tried and tested rally formats. The prime objective was to make it real fun, with easy to follow routing.”
“Thus over the last four weeks, a route schedule was hatched with a route proving flight undertaken to check that the route would be do-able and interesting to fly. The outcome was a route through the scenic Magalies valley, north up through the platinum belt, then south-eastwards along the Crocodile River into game bush country.”
“The format was in the form of a pre-defined route map that was available prior to the event starting for everybody to either plan their route with traditional map plotting tools or to program their GPS's.”
“Each route's leg had turning point photographs to be recognised (either being correct or incorrect), then a few questions had to be answered on ground features or sites that were historic or scenic, mostly cryptic in nature. The booklet contained a section of wiki notes ( compiled courtesy of daughter Jenni) that would enable the crews to answer all the questions - with a warning - “Don't read at your peril….”, and guess what…., most forgot to find the answers in the most obvious place…. Some crews of course were googling for answers on their cell phones - because they can - somewhat inefficient given everything was right in front of them.”
“Initially 21 crews registered, with 14 confirming at briefing time, a few had to withdraw with aircraft serviceability problems, and one unfortunate entry had their aircraft blown upside down at Lanseria on Wednesday. In all for such an event a very good turnout, with a broad spectrum of aircraft participating, from the fast RV10 doing 120 knots, to the slowest a Piper Cub at 55 knots and even an Alouette 2 helicopter taking part - they of course had the best view out the window to do photo recognition.”
“After the briefing, and with 20 minutes prior take-off - of handing out papers, the first competitors took to the skies at 9.30, with the last off at 10.30. The weather was thankfully cool with a few rain showers around, although around 11 am, a rain squall with windy conditions passed by the airfield. Most competitors got around the course without deviations, although some had to skirt around the rainy parts towards the last of turning points.”
“With everybody successfully home, it was time for marking the exam papers which was left to the strict invigilators Rene Clulow and Marita Rudolph to record the points. Between the clues and photo recognition, a total of 38 points could be scored. When all was tallied up, it ended in a tie of 31 points for first place between Piper Cub pilot Pierre Dippenaar, and the team of Thys vd Merwe & Mary de Klerk, and given the possibility of such an eventuality, the winner had to be chosen from a draw of cards “aces high”. The first draw turned out to be another tie…. of queens…., much to amusement of the watching audience, the second draw then determined the outcome with Pierre winning the top spot.”
“Thus came to the end of a hopefully enjoyable day for everybody who took part, and given the large amount of competitors, it should bode well for doing this again sometime in the future, and in the words of SAPFA chairman Frank Eckard, “this is a new way of converting Avgas into Fun”. Many thanks are extended to the prize sponsors, Dennis Jankelow Associates, Comav, Shell Aviation, Comet Aviation Supplies for their support to this event.”
Second place went to Sean Russell and Andrew Pitman
Whilst Pierre Dippenaar, who flew solo, tied with Mary de Klerk and Thys van der Merwe. First place was decided by the draw of a card which resulted in another draw when two queens were drawn. After a second draw Pierre drew the highest card and was declared the winner.Left to right: Thys, Mary, René and Pierre
Eventually the clouds cleared and it was a glorious Bushveld day. Out flights were arranged, lifts offered or bummed whilst others relaxed and stories were told.
Ivan van der Schaar and Dirk Louw taking for an out flight
Safety Officer Nigel Musgrave ran a tight ship and no incidents were reported
Braai fires were lit as dusk fell. Instead of the usual braai packs one had a choice of pork, wors, sosaties or lamb at very reasonable prices whilst pap and gravy was also an available. Another successful Sun 'n Fun organised by the members of Chapter 322 drew to a close. The festivities however did not and all agreed that it was a wonderful weekend.