The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) held the annual National Landing Championships at Brits on Saturday 8th December 2018, as the last of the SAPFA fixtures for the year.
The Landing Competitors and Marshalls
The weather was a factor throughout the week for considering if the event would take place, by Thursday it looked like Saturday would be a clear day with the usual summer convection weather systems around with isolated thunder showers forecast after 4 PM.
Chief Landing Judge Jacques Jacobs with the team setting up the scoring system
The interest in the competition did not bring much new competitors to take part, mostly the stalwarts of experienced SAPFA members some of them have been world landing champions in the past, it is an element of international competition that us South Africans excel at. For sure we need to look at developing the sport and skills in this under represented activity, it also has the benefit of honing all our pilot skills to be able to land accurately under a wide variety of conditions, especially in forced landings where making a good glide approach and landing on pre-determined spot all the more relevant.
The two Fun Class competitors getting ready for take-off
The competition was run by the SAPFA chief landing judge Jacques Jacobs, who with his team of marshalls, set up the landing scoring system on Runway 02, and after briefing at 08h30, the fun class of newbies took part and their task was to do four normal landings as standard powered approaches with flaps as required.
Jonty Esser approaching the barrier
After the fun class it was the turn of the Open Class, who were organized into 3 groups and had to do two rounds of four landings each, the four landings had to be a standard powered approach with flaps as required, a barrier landing also as a standard approach (the barrier is a line of flags 2 metres high placed 50 m from the line), then 2 glide approach landings, one with and one without flaps with the power closed at 1000 ft abeam the landing line.
Thys vd Merwe homing in on the bingo line in flapless configuration
The wind was mostly under 10 kts with a right hand cross-wind, and as the morning wore on, a thunderstorm cell started brewing from the northwest and the wind got stronger to around 15kts, with gusting conditions and turbulence.
Ron Stirk landing on the line with the only bingo of the day
It was around 11 am when the thunderstorm was closing in and Hans Schwebel on his last landing to complete Round 1 when the rain started where the downdrafts messed up his last glide approach to land short.
Rob Jonkers on the first powered approach
Within 5 minutes the heavens opened with a cloudburst lasting around 15 minutes, clearing up again with good flying weather. It was decided to complete the competition with the Round 1 results, and held prize giving with Jonty Esser having taken first place.
The cloudburst stopping flying for the day
As this is a good test of skills and is spectator friendly, this kind of competition will be looked at in the future as gaining more competitors.
Jonty Esser in 1st place - Open Class with Von Hamman Brits Club Chairman & Jacques Jacobs
Ron Stirk in 2nd place - Open Class
Hans Schwebel in 3rd place - Open Class
Martin Meyer in 2nd Place - Fun Class