Two years after the first SAPFA rally was held at Hoedspruit, another very successful one was held over the weekend. Last year's event was cancelled due to weather, so we were all hoping for conditions to be good for this popular event.
Participants and organisers
Organisers Frank and Cally Eckard with Hoedspruit Flying Club Chairman Wynand Uys
Local organiser and Chairman of Hoedspruit Flying Club, Wynand Uys, roped in 12 teams to participate. He is a very keen advocate of the sport, believing it to be an essential part of any pilot's training in safety and competence. He and his wife Maritinka kindly hosted SAPFA rally organisers Frank and Cally Eckard.
Tom van der Meulen and Juan Gerrits pose with the Gyro they competed in
The weather was perfect, but unfortunately the Military Airfield was celebrating their Freedom of the Town of Hoedspruit on the same day, so the rally had to be delayed until mid-morning. The advantage was that we were treated to a few low-level helicopter fly-bys from the nearby base.
The Albatross, piloted by Ingmar Bezuidenhout and navigated by Markus Bagdahn, thunders down the Hoedspruit runway
Ten aircraft eventually took off, and flew along the road north to Phalaborwa, then towards the Blyde River Canyon mountain range, and along their foothills, through the agricultural lands of Hoedspruit, crossing the Blyde River and Sandspruit, and using them as navigation points of reference. The tasks were kept very basic, and included only one observation photo to be recognised per leg, and most teams found about half of the photographs, which is very commendable.
A Bosbok takes off from Hoedspruit airfield after completing the rally
The landing at the end of the rally was included in the final results, and overall winner Don Clark was the winner of the Landing Competition, flying a Cessna 172, and with a score of only 4 points, he landed a mere four metres beyond the landing line.
Jenny Newenham and Maritza de Kock are presented with their certificates by Frank Eckard
Wynand often holds informal "rallies" and flour bombing, which must explain the high level of skills held by these local pilots.
Jaco Schepers and Anelle Vermeulen took fifth place
Keen rallyers Uys van Rensburg and Thys Scheepers joined the infamous "One Minute Club" by setting their clocks one minute too late. They flew a near-perfect route, and their times were excellent, but unfortunately one minute out all the way around the course - a very valuable but heart-wrenching lesson.
Winning team Don Clark (pilot) and Cally Eckard (navigator) with route planner Frank Eckard. Photo by Wynand Uys
Winner Don Clark teamed up with co-organiser Cally Eckard because his own navigator cancelled at the last minute. However, his win was definitely a well-deserved one, as he is a very precise and conscientious pilot and navigator. Cally left the map-preparation to him, as well as most of the photo-spotting and navigation.
Percy Hanskins and Charlot Engels, proudly receive third place certificates
Mention must also be made of Charlot Engels flying the Commander, the first woman to ever be trained as a pilot in the Netherlands navy. She has participated in several rallies in Europe over the years, and is an intrepid pilot - always up for a challenge and an adventure.
The second-place threesome of Willie du Plessis, Joggie and HJ Prinsloo receive their certificates
First-timer and seventh-placed Maritza de Kock, who flew with Jenny Newenham, is a very keen and competent balloon pilot, with Sun Catchers Hot Air Balloon Rides in Hoedspruit. She said after the competition that she had learned so much during the flight, and is keen to participate in future events.
Place Pilot Navigator Aircraft Landing Total Score
1 Don Scott Cally Eckard Cessna 172 4 166
2 Willie du Plessis Joggie & HJ Prinsloo Cessna 210 80 245
3 Charlot Engels Percy Hanskins Commander 114B 28 288
4 Tom van der Meulen Juan Gerrits Gyro 32 352
5 Jaco Scheepers Anelle Vermeulen Jabiru 2 200 396
The South African rally team will be participating in the World Rally Championships in Dubnica, Slovakia in early August. Please follow them on Facebook and on the SAPFA website.
The next Fun Rally will be held at Grand Central on 8 September. Please watch the SAPFA website for more details. All welcome.