The South African power Flying Association (SAPFA) held its 1st Air Navigation Race (ANR) format rally at Brits on Saturday 2nd September.
Traditional rally flying is not much of a spectator sport unlike car rallies, and with today's world, sport has to go out to the people, and the ANR generates more excitement and tension than other formats, and has a visual representation for spectators on the ground to see real time what the competitors are doing.
The rules are simple to understand - for pilots and for spectators. With several aircraft all departing at the same time, flying parallel slaloms, and with real-time display of penalty points, everything completed in no more than about 11 minutes, thus there can be eliminating flight rounds in heats resulting in quarter finals, semi-finals and finals to a winner all within the time line of a day's competition.
The ANR requires a crew of 2, Pilot and Navigator, where the start and finish are timed at a selected speed and navigation needs to be carried out along narrow 0.4nm twisting corridors. Crews are handed their map with the printed corridor and are given thirty minutes to plan their flight.
Loggers are used to log the flight track in order to determine the final score. The crew with the least amount of penalties is the winning crew. Penalties are normally counted in seconds outside the corridor and start/finish time gates.
For this SAPFA 1st ANR competition, it coincided with the first World ANR Competition being held in Spain in a week's time, as a practice run for selected rally / precision crews taking part there.
For this event, two routes were mapped out, in this case not as parallel corridors, but as a circular zig-zag track, with competitors taking off at 5 minute intervals.
There were four teams taking part, Frank & Cally Eckard, Mary de Klerk & Thys vd Merwe, Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk, Rob Jonkers & Marie Reddy. Rob set up the live track big screen in the Brits club house, but with slow internet connection the tracks could not be seen live, but were available for viewing by the time the competitors retuned.
The wind was howling from early on at least 15 - 20 kts, making flying the imaginary corridors interesting, this being a first outing trying to establish each of the crews responsibilities was somewhat trying, eventually settling on the pilot watching for map features for the left corridor boundary and the navigator watching the right hand boundary, and somewhere in between looking at the far field and timing points.
Needless to say, quite daunting and high workload in the cockpit, and with such short legs, hardly are you on one leg, you have to look for the turning point of the next, and in this format rally, turning points don't necessarily have any ground features, one has to rely on the timing points. The maps used in this race was the 1:250k topographic maps, last updated in the 1990's printed in 1:150k size, and without specific turning point map features, what one sees on the ground in real life does not always correspond, catching many of us out, I guess some map updates are way overdue.
Having completed both rounds, the scores were quickly available, and the winning team was Frank & Cally Eckard with a total of 486 points - a very good score to international standards.
Overall a good result in testing some experienced crews and the software and the spectator tracking system, which will be looked at for future events.
The livetrack image of 3 competitor tracks, all of them getting a bit out of kilter at the back end of the course where the granite quarries are, and map terrain features tended to be quite different from reality.