Sunrise at the Swellengrebel Airfield
The Swellengrebel Flying Club fly-in is a popular event in the southern part of SA, customary being held on the 1st weekend of March each year. This year it was moved to the 1st weekend of April, to combine with the Sports Aerobatics Club Western Cape Regional competition.
A view of some of the attending aircraft
It sometimes looked like an RV fly-in
Even though fairly well advertised force of habit got at least one lonely soul (no names, no pack drill) to attend this event twice this year as he flew in all ready for a weekend of fun on the old date. Not being fazed by a busy schedule he was back a month later to enjoy this great event. How is that for dedication?
As some aerobatic contestants have not flown their aircraft in anger for some time, the skies over the airfield were buzzing from early in the week. Flying at the Swellengrebel Airfield is rather tricky as the field borders the Bontebok Park on 3 sides and overflying the Park is not recommended, except for take-offs and landings. Due to the park there is only one place for the aerobatics box, to the north east of the field, with one edge along the runway. This meant more than half the aerobatic box was on private farm land. Due to the owner of the land denying access to the judges, and even had an issue with placing the markers, the judge's task was very difficult as they had to stare into the sun for two days.
Nigel's office in the Extra 330SC
To address this problem somewhat the program were timed according to the best sun heights. Helm Ludwig must specially be commended as he was staring into the sun for nearly a week, critting and commenting on the practice flights of the contestants. Much interest was directed at Nigel Hopkins and his new aircraft, an Extra 330SC. Nigels MX2 was destroyed last year during a practice flight for the World Aerobatics in France. Having received the aircrafts paperwork from the CAA only days before the event, he did not get any time to acquaint himself with the Extras aerobatic behaviour before the event. His time in the aircraft was so limited that the flight down to Swellendam had to be used to run in the engine.
Nigel taking-off in his Extra 330SC
Looking at the results of his unknown sequences, and listening to his comments to Mark Hensman after his first practice flight, it seems Nigel is more than happy with his new aircraft. He noted some areas where it is different to the MX2, but nothing that some practice cannot sort out. With Nigel having a ride again (or does one call it a fly?), Team Extreme once again took to the skies when Nigel and Mark Hensman gave a great display of precision flying on Friday and Saturday.
Team Extreme, Nigel Hopkins and Mark Hensman, give a display
The first non-aerobatic aircraft started arriving on Thursday and a fair amount of aircraft visited over the course of the weekend. A few fly-in visitors flew in from the Eastern Cape and a great many from the Peninsula, even though the weather in the Cape was not ideal, sometimes impossible, for flying.
Mark Hensman in the MX2 making an inverted passed for the spectators
Mark Sampson taking off in the MX2
In the past the Swellengrebel Flying Club hosted a mini airshow as part of the fly-in, but with escalating cost this has been stopped a few years ago. It was thus great to see that the marriage with the aerobatic contest made for a fair share of local enthusiasts visiting by ground transport. As always there were food and drink a plenty. A jumping castle was provided for the kids to keep them occupied while Mom and Dad enjoyed the flying and there were some light musical entertainment on Saturday night.
Camping at the field
Ex SAAF Cessna 185. Tail number 732, owned by Dr Noel Pharoah of the Swellengrebel Flying Club
A beautiful Cessna 170 all the way from the Eastern Cape
Gyrocopter fleet from Morningstar Airfield
The club always encourage people to stay over at the field as great ablution facilities are available, and this year a sizable tent camp was visible next to the clubhouse.
As an aerobatics competition can be very confusing to the man in the street, Cliff Lotter conned non-competing aerobatic pilot, Harry de Villiers into playing commentator, a task which was well performed.
Harry de Villiers, commentator
Results for the Western Cape Regional Championships of SAC:
RV Class: First, Walter Goodrich RV 7. Second, Alan Fergus RV 8. Third, Johan Ferreira RV 8.
Johan Ferreira, RV competitor, taking off for his sequence
Sportsman Class: First, Iain Fergusson Sbach. Second, Conrad Botha Slick 360. Third, Markku Torppa Zlin 50.
Andrew Blackwood-Murray doing an engine run-up in the Zlin 50
Intermediate Class: First, Cliff Lotter Zlin 50. Second, Andrew Blackwood-Murray Zlin 50.
Advanced Class: Fist, Leigh Le Gonidec Sbach.
Unlimited Class: First, Nigel Hopkins Extra 330 SC. Second, Mark Hensman MX2. Third, Mark Sampson MX2.
Nigel Hopkins with his Extra 330SC
Contest Director: Helm Ludwig assisted by Cliff Lotter. Judges: John Gaillard (Chief judge), Quintin Hawthorne, and Helm Ludwig. Scoring Director: Yvonne van Zandwijk. (More detailed results is available at www.aerobatics.co.za