The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) together with the Springs Flying Club organised the second successful Speed Navigation Fun Rally on Saturday 24th November 2018.
The competitors after the Saturday morning briefing
Although originally planned as a fun rally, after the success of the Secunda Speed Rally held in October, it was decided to hold the Speed Rally format again for Springs. With the entries limited to 30, the list quickly filled up after the website entries opened, and even with some scratchings due to aircraft availability, the waiting list grew to refill the 30 places. We for sure have something going as far as excitement on this type of event goes. The entries also included many family member teams, four father & son teams, 2 teams with brothers, and 2 teams with husband and wife combinations, a very varied field for sure. There were also five teams that entered from the Springs based Mach 1 flight school, these budding CPL crews had their first taste of real map reading skills being put to the test.
Jonty Esser and Rob Jonkers busy with the competitor briefing
This event is one that is flown at full speed under handicap conditions, the course is around 120 nm long, has 11 or so turning points, with each turning point identified with a correct photograph. This is also an event where no GPS aids are allowed, thus for this event, all portable devices are sealed, although no aircraft units are deactivated, but discouraged in their use in an honesty system, although there would be little time available to attempt to program anything.
The intent is that everybody uses the basic skills of navigation plotting and flying, and operate as a team in terms of cockpit workload, and with the course layout with short legs it for sure makes the crew resource work sharing all the more important. The idea would be that each crew would receive a pre-plotted map already complete with the route, turning points, headings, altitudes, where the map would not have any lat/long or grid references. This would be provided 20 minutes prior take-off to allow route orientation and the plotting of minute markers.
In this format, there are two objectives, fly against a pre-determined handicap speed for each aircraft, and fly the shortest route around the course which would consist of a minimum of 10 turning points, and any aircraft would be able to compete, from slower LSA aircraft to the fast turbo singles or twins. The idea would be to test the speed capability and navigation skills of each crew against each other, where the most accurate flying and turn performance management would win the rally.
The team of Jason Boshoff and Sarnia Hattingh in their RV6 ZU-BVC
Friday was set out as the day to carry out flight tests to establish handicap speeds, and the day started out with low cloud and plenty wind, which delayed the start to the test flying, but eventually at midday or so the weather had improved sufficiently, although not ideal, making the test flight results problematic, especially with turbulence affecting achieving stability of speed in each leg. In any event between the test flight results and other event handicap history were able to obtain a starting grid.
The line-up of aircraft prior start-up
All the competitors were treated to a briefing on Steroids on Friday night with the Speed Rally organizer Jonty Esser having set up a show for the teams, with a real life lights, camera, action sequence, where each team were introduced with their team theme song, handed their race numbers. Jonty also introduced the teams to the Speed Rally website where a Speed Rally ranking system was created, with team profiles and their leaderboard position. After this excitement, it was the turn of Rob Jonkers the event planner to bring everybody down into serious mode and provided a briefing on the event and some training on how to fly the rally with some basic tools. After this some excellent live entertainment was provided and a braai/buffet dinner.
The father and son team of Piet and Willie Meyer busy plotting on the tail of their Jabiru ZU- DUU
See Insert story of Piet and Willie's flight below
Saturday morning dawned with the wind pumping in from the north but predicted to reduce during the day, and after the host club providing a great breakfast, the briefing got underway just after 8h30, and prior to that ground marshalls were pointing out parking places, and refueling slots.
The team of Daniel Igun and Nkosi Fanti busy plotting in their Cherokee ZS-MKZ
The briefing was shorter than the previous evening, and focused on the procedures for scrutineering, the handing out of papers, starting line, and finish protocol. The aircraft were parked in order of slowest to fastest, with a 15-30 second gap as a minimum between them, with the idea to have all the aircraft cross the finish line as close to 12 noon as possible, given that everybody needs to achieve a perfect route around the course.
The team of Ala Buserwil and Tintso Mabunda with their C172 ZS-PED
Scrutineers Chareen, Kevin, Karyn & Sandy were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices, and also handing out papers at the allotted time. To assist the teams at getting their take-off roll accurate, a starting colour panel was used (simple triangular three colour board - which was much improved over the daylight non visible light system used previously), which was set up next to the start line on the runway, which would release them at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers at their 20 minutes prior take-off time, and the teams taxied to the starting line. 1st take-off was at 10h25 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 11h20, with planned arrival at 12h00, the fast RV10 ZU-DSE only needing 40 minutes to complete the course.
Mary de Klerk and Phil Wakeley getting ready in their C210 ZS-CNY
With all the teams airborne and finding their way around, the first teams were back on schedule and were streaming in one after the other, some having overtaken others either having flown a good navigation route or having flown close to their handicap speed. For this event, with the wind and turbulence the lighter aircraft would have had a harder time to achieve their handicap speeds compared with the heavier high end aircraft which are less affected, but the wind started to die down from around 11 am onwards but the turbulence remained a factor.
After all teams having returned and safe on the ground, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, with the tracks for many being quite accurate, although some had wobbles, only two teams got lost and had to switch their GPS on and press the Direct-to button to get back to Springs.
The team of Bob Cohoe and Gerda Pienaar in the ZU-OZI
The results were completed by around 14h45, and prize giving could start at 3 pm, and first up on the prize giving programme was to show some of the interesting tracks, some excellent and some not so good getting the audience in fits of laughter. Jonty first handed over the host club floating trophy to Eric Addison representing the East Rand Flying Club, and then the placings for the best handicap speed and thereafter the most accurate / shortest route flown.
The take-offs of equally handicapped C210's
The overall winners in the best handicap speed were the team of Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in a C210, in second place was Ryan & Chris Shillaw in their Cirrus SR22 ZS-ACA, and in third place Johan van Eeden and Gavin Edwards in their RV7A ZU-IHH.
Winners of the best speed and shortest distance flown - Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk in C210 ZS-CNY
2nd placed Ryan & Chris Shillaw in their Cirrus ZS-ACA with Chareen Shillaw receiving the trophy
3rd placed Johan van Eeden and Gavin Edwards in their RV7 ZU-IHH
The most accurate / shortest route flown winners were the team of Mauritz du Plessis and Andre Kluyts in the C172 ZS-SYA, in second place was Wim Kotze and Rob Gobac in their Yak 52 ZU-AMC, and in third place was Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer in their Sportstar ZU-FBJ.
1st placed Mauritz du Plessis and Andre Kluyts for the most accurate route flown
Many thanks to the East Rand Flying Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Hans Potgieter as the Competition Director, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk de Vos and his wife doing the scoring, Chareen Shillaw handing out competition papers to the crews, Karyn Purchase, Kevin Cloete and Sandy vd Merwe for Scrutineering, Paul Sabatier as ground marshall, and Jonty for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event. Also to the sponsors Aeroshell, Flightline Weekly, Aviation Junction and Prompt Roofing for race stickers, caps, trophies, meals.
1st placed Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk's winning track
Oops - We thought we had to go to Nigel
Our next Speed Rally event will be in Morning Star in the Western Cape
My Speed Rally flight with my father - Piet Meyer ZU-DUU
I thought to share my Speed Rally story of how our flight went with my father and I. This is the first time ever my dad flies with me. We get the maps and basically had no time to explain about navigation, and we use the stabilizer as a plotting table. We get in the plane and off we go.
Dad's hearing aids are not working too well with headsets so when I ask something I just get a smile. He looks at the photos of turn points trying to find them. Me:" Dad, look at the map, where are we?" Dad:"I can't see this house with red roof on the photo", Me:" Dad, ignore the photos, concentrate on the map. Where are we?" Dad (only hears photo): "Maybe the photo is to the left. I see a house and it might have a red roof" Me:"Dad, we are still a while off the turnpoint, try to see where we are on the map. Ignore the photos". Dad:" Yes, will try and find the places on the photo".
Now I take photos away, take the map and try to fly and find location on map. Finally my dad figures out how to trace the route on the map and takes it from me. Now all is going well..... until we get to a turn point and I ask. "Dad, look at the photo and try to see what it looks like.” Dad (smiles as he is not sure what I said): "Yes, the map works better than the photo." ....... fun times with my dad.
He loved and enjoyed every moment of the utter confusion in the plane. He was so excited the whole week before as he always wanted to fly but since I got my license 8 years ago we never seemed to be able to go fly. Life just got in the way, and when my normal navigator could not make it I thought I would take him with just for fun and finally got to fly with him.
When he received that participation medal he was all smiles, and Mom phoned me later and said that he could not stop talking about the day. Apparently he is this awesome navigator now and so proud that he got us into 8th place...... I loved spending the day with him and he does not need to know that the last 3 turn points his navigator was me just following the planes ahead and hoping they got it right….
I saw that awesome Kalahari orange Cirrus pass underneath us, and pointed out to Dad how amazing plane that is...... he said "Yes, very nice but concentrate on your own race", and with that I burst out laughing and concentrated on my race. He gets very competitive at times….