The President's Trophy Air Race (PTAR) is one of the most prestigious and longest running air races in the world and takes place annually during the month of May. This year the race was held at Bethlehem and was successfully hosted by the Bethlehem Aero Club (BAC).
Some of the aircraft on Thursday
The President's Trophy Air Race (PTAR) is most probably the aviation event in the country that attracts the largest number of competitors and close to 90 aircraft was entered for the race.
The PTAR officials at the start of the race
The race is organised and controlled by the South African Powered Flying Association (SAPFA) and is officially sanctioned by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) as a World Class 1 event. Originally known as the Governor General Cup Air Race and first held in 1937. The present format of the race was finalized in 1983 and consists of two triangular legs of approximately 400 nautical miles; the distance was later changed to 300 nautical miles per day. When possible the course forms a bow-tie on the final day so that the participating aircraft cross the starting point runway halfway through the race to add spectator value. The race was renamed the President's trophy Air Race in 1994. This was the second time that the race was held at Bethlehem, the previous occasion was in 1984.
Dieter Bock and Dale de Klerk in the Lancair Legacy. 224.8 knots, the fastest average speed piston engine in the history of the air race
Race No 10 ZU-DCB Lancair Legacy, aircraft with the highest allocated handicap and first to take off on day 1………….Race No 14 ZS-JWG Cessna 182P, 4th place on day 1, 8th place on day 2, overall 4th place
The race is a handicap race and is open to all Class C1 aircraft with reciprocating engines. A handicap procedure is used in order to attempt to afford all aircraft an equal chance to compete. The determining of handicaps for the different aircraft have been a bone of contention ever since the first race it has been in use and provision has been made for competitors, who feel that they have been unfairly handicapped, to query their handicaps with the Race Director who will refer their queries to a jury. The appointed members of the Jury for the Bethlehem race were Chris Linakis, Neil de Lange and Ron Stirk. As more than 90% of the aircraft were across the finishing line within 10 minutes, the handicappers obviously did a fair and thorough job.
Race No 18 ZS-ECK Cessna 182H, 10th place overall…………..Race No 23 ZS-WAP Piper PA-28R-200, 3rd place on day 1, 2nd place on day 2 and first overall
Race No 27 ZS-EJS Cessna 182H, 7th on day 2………….Race No 30 ZU-FZJ Van's RV6A 10th on day 2
All the competitors had arrived by Thursday and the day was utilized for registration, test flights and to scrutinise the aircraft in order to ensure that none of the participating pilots have committed perjury on their entry forms by stating that their aircraft are airworthy, has all the required documentation on board and is unmodified other than what was already declared on the entry forms.
Race Director Robin Spencer-Scarr laying down the rules during the first briefing session……….Michael Nethavhane, the Met Officer presenting a detailed weather report
Race No 50 ZU-FHM Van's RV8, 9th on day 1……….Race No 57 ZU-FCE Van's RV8, 9th place overall
Thursday's activities were concluded with a compulsory briefing session conducted in his usual humoristic manner by Race Director Robin Spencer-Scarr while the weather forecast was supplied by Michael Nethavhani from the National Weather Bureau. The briefing was followed by a very boisterous get-together in two other hangars, where tasty pasta dish was served and the diners entertained to the lively singing of Zieg Mulke.
Race No 31 ZS-SDW Diamond DA42 TDI 6th on day 1…………… Race No 38 ZS-MWO Mooney M.20J, 8th place on day 1, 6th place on day 2 and 6th place overall
Friday, Day 1 of the race, started with an early morning briefing by the Race Director and the weatherman. Then the race started in all earnest. The competitor flying the aircraft with the highest allocated handicap, Dieter Bock in his Lancair Legacy with navigator Dale de Klerk, took to the air at exactly 10:00 am on the first leg of the race. The last aircraft to depart, ZU-ALY, Aermacchi AM.3C took-off at 10:43. The weather was ideal for flying except for some fog between Volksrust and Heilbron. The course for Day 1 was Bethlehem, Volksrust, Heilbron, Senekal, Apple Orchards near Wolhuterskop and then back to Bethlehem, a distance of approximately 300 nautical miles.
Race No 69 ZU-DJC Van's RV8, 2nd place on day 1, 9th place on day 2 and 3rd place overall………..Race No 96 ZU-BHX Piper PA-22- 150, the first aircraft to take off on the final day
RESULTS DAY ONE
1. Race No 60 ZU-EUB Mooney M20F Koos vd Merwe / Sarel vd Merwe
2. Race No 69 ZU-DJC Van's RV-8 Daan Conradie / Hendrik Visser
3. Race No 23 ZS-WAP Piper PA-28R-200 Philip Jacobs / Nico Smith
4. Race No 14 ZS-JWG Cessna 182P Piet Ferreira / Johan van Gruting
5. Race No 89 ZS-HME Beech C33A Ivar Joubert / Shaun Stander
6. Race No 31 ZS- SDW Diamond DA42 Steve Dewsbury / Donald O'Connor
7. Race No 94 ZS-KTO Piper Aerostar Gerhard van Zyl / Colin Jordaan
8. Race No 38 ZS-MWO Mooney M20J Wynand Lotter / Andreas Papachristoforou
9. Race No 50 ZU-FHM Van's RV-8 Ross Leighton / Richard Adcock
10 Race No102 ZU-FSP Sling Carel Hoffman / Cyril Manser
1 Aircraft did not start
1 Aircraft did not finish
5 Competitors were disqualified for missing turn points
Race No 60 ZS-EUB Mooney M.20F, 1st place on day 1, 5th place on day 2 and 2nd place overall………Race No 74 ZU-KAI Flight Design CTSW, 1st place on day 2 and 5th overall
After the afternoon briefing everybody moved to the hangers where an even more boisterous get-together followed and a delicious meal of steak and chips was served and several sponsored prices were raffled by Robbie Myburgh.
Race No 25 ZU-ACY Aermacchi AM.3C, The aircraft with the lowest allocated handicap on day 1, finished 3rd on day 2 and 8th overall……………Race No 66 ZS-IGY Beagle B121 Ser. II, 4th place on day 2
Saturday, the final race day, began with the compulsory briefing conducted by Robin and Michael, once more Michael predicted ideal weather for flying and his forecast turned out to be correct. Piper PA-22-150, registration no ZS-BHX, was the first aircraft to take-off at 10:39 and the last aircraft to depart was the Lancair Legacy which took-off 1 hour and 6 minutes later. The route for the final race was Montevideo, Kroonstad, turn point 6 Cross Over, Harrismith, Reitz and then finally to the finishing line at Bethlehem airfield, a distance of approximately 280 nautical miles. The first aircraft to cross the finishing line was ZU-KAI a Flight Design CTSW, closely followed by ZS-WAP, the Piper PA-28R-200 flown by Philip Jacobs.
Race No 89 ZS-HME Beech C33A, 5th place on day 1 and 7th place overall………..Race No 94 ZS-KTO Piper 600 Aerostar, 7th place on day 1
RESULTS DAY TWO
1. Race No 74 ZU-KAI Flight Design CTSW Kai-Uwe Neckel / Tyrone Mcintosh
2. Race No 23 ZS-WAP Piper PA-28R-200 Philip Jacobs / Nico Smith
3. Race No 25 ZU-ACY Aermacchi AM.3C Ivan Marx / Martin Marx
4. Race No 66 ZS-IGY Beagle B121 Ser II Duncan Finch / Michael Penney
5. Race No 60 ZS-EUB Mooney M20F Kobus vd Merwe / Sarel vd Merwe
6. Race No 38 ZS-MWO Mooney M20J Wynand Lotter / Andreas Papachristoforou
7. Race No 27 ZS-EJS Cessna 182H Coetzee vd Merwe / Jan Randell
8. Race No 14 ZS-JWG Cessna 182P Piet Ferreira / Johan van Gruting
9. Race No 69 ZU-DJC Van's RV-8 Daan Conradie / Hendrik Visser
10. Race No 30 ZU-FZJ Van's RV-6A Eddie Scholtz / Lourens Eksteen
6 competitors did not start
1 competitor made a precautionary landing
Race No 97 ZS-CTP Cirrus SR20 flown by Janide Ray the first female pilot home………Race No 102 ZU-FSP Sling, 10th on day 1
(After penalties have been taken into account)
1. Race No 23 ZS-WAP Piper PA-28R-200 Philip Jacobs / Nico Smith
2. Race No 60 ZS-EUB Mooney M20F Kobus vd Merwe / Sarel vd Merwe
3. Race No 69 ZU-DJC Van's RV-8 Daan Conradie / Hendrik Visser
4. Race No 14 ZS-JWG Cessna 182P Piet Ferreira / Johan van Gruting
5. Race No 74 ZU-KAI Flight Design CTWS Kai-Uwe Neckel / Tyrone Mcintosh
6. Race No 38 ZS-MWO Mooney M20J Wynand Lotter / Andries Papachristoforou
7. Race No 89 ZS-HME Beech C33A Ivar Joubert / Shaun Stander
8. Race No 25 ZU-ACY Aermacchi AM.3C Ivan Marx / Martin Marx
9. Race No 57 ZU-FCE Van's RV-8 Dawie van Staden / Wayne Schmidt
10. Race No18 ZS-ECK Cessna 182H Eduard du Plessis / Hubert Wentzel
Saturday evening Gala Dinner
Philip Jacobs and Nico Smith, his navigator, winners of the President's Trophy
An excellently organised and managed PTAR concluded with a superbly planned, organised AWARD FUNCTION that was presented in a hanger that was magically transformed, by the a couple of wives of the members of the Bethlehem Aero Club, into a spectacular venue worthy of the PTAR award function. A very tasty dinner feast to match the venue was served.
BAC Chairman Philip Jacobs addressed the guests….. ..........Rob Jonker and Whitney, the lovely ATC lady, getting ready to do the draw for the SAPFA Oshkosh Raffle
After the Chairman of BAC, Philip Jacobs had addressed the guests, Rob Jonkers and Whitney, the lovely Air Traffic Controller, draw the winning ticket for the SAPFA Oshkosh Raffle. The ticket No 33 bought by Rob Jeffery and Neil Bowden's daughter, Laura was drawn. When Neil was informed of the outcome of the draw, he offered to sponsor Laura's ticket and the ticket was return for a second draw. Ticket No 306, bought by Piet Schutte from Krugersdorp was drawn by Whitney.
Janice Ray, the first placed women pilot with Jonathan Smook, her navigator, winner of the Wakefield Trophy……. ........ Members of the Bethlehem Aero club and their spouses
Then the moment everybody was waiting for arrived as the name of the winner of the President's Trophy announced and the members of the BAC could not contain their joy when the trophy was awarded to the crew of Race No 23, Philip Jacobs and his navigator Nico Smith.
Members of the Bethlehem Aero Club showing their appreciation for Phillip's achievement……........ Zieg Mulke, who provided excellent entertainment at all the social functions
The members of the Bethlehem Aero Club and their spouses must be congratulated and praised for their amazing effort to plan, organise and present such an outstanding and successful race. The race was a most enjoyable aviation event with great camaraderie between all present and involved throughout the duration of the event and most important it was a safe event.
Officials of the Springs Aero Club accepting the President's Trophy Air Race banner
It was announced that the 2017 PTAR will be hosted by the East Rand Flying Club, Springs and the PTAR banner was presented to officials of the club.