2020 World Rally Flying Championship Comes to South Africa

By Cally Eckard

SAPFA is thrilled to announce that its bid to host the World Rally Championships in 2020 has been approved. They specially chose that year, because it coincides with Aero Club's centenary, and the championships will be the most prestigious of the events it has planned for that year.

Stellenbosch Airfield in the spectactular Cape Province. Mary de Klerk took this photo of Stellenbosch Airfield during the rally competition held there recently

They hope to attract the largest number of international competitors ever registered for the championships, and have chosen Stellenbosch Airfield as the venue, in order to do this. 2020 will not be the first time Stellenbosch has had the honour of hosting the World champs - they did so in 1991.

Mary de Klerk, competition director for the World Rally Flying Championships to be held in 2020Ö..Capain Colin Jordaan, deputy competition director

The organising committee, under the leadership of Mary de Klerk, has already booked accommodation at the luxurious Protea Hotel Stellenbosch, which overlooks the airfield, and competition route planners Frank and Cally Eckard organised a Rally in November based at FASH. It failed to attract the numbers of local pilots they hoped for, but was a great training event for the organisers. Stellenbosch Flying Club has just appointed a new manager, who will be instrumental in hosting the event and encouraging new pilots to participate. Rob Jonkers, chairman of SAPFA will be overseeing the event from a SAPFA point of view, Mauritz du Plessis is the treasurer, and Mary has co-opted Cpt Colin Jordaan as her deputy director. Colin was the competition director in 1991, so is very qualified for this post.

The bid to host the World Rally Flying Championships in 2020 was successfully presented by SA representatives Hans Schwebel and Frank Eckard at the GAC conference in Helsinki in November.

Local interest is vital, and SAPFA, together with Stellenbosch Flying Club, invites pilots and other interested people in the aviation world who belong to Stellenbosch and surrounding flying clubs, to participate in the Fun Rally program, or to volunteer their services either to the organising committee or to Stellenbosch Flying Club.

Mary also plans to provide a full complement of local pilots and navigators to make up the South African team, hoping that local knowledge will stand them in good stead against the international contenders. Jonty Esser is designing a point system leading up to the World Championships, in order to encourage pilots to gain enough experience to be chosen for the team. The current South African Flying Team are always in attendance at every Fun Rally, ready to share their knowledge and skills with enthusiastic "wanna-be" rally pilots and navigators. Those who show their willingness to learn more and wish to try out their skills in the Intermediate or Open categories are given individual training, and often have the opportunity of flying with one of the South African Team members, which is a hugely beneficial learning experience.

The usually busy Rally Flying calendar is going to be even busier for the next two years in the run-up to 2020. Look out for these events on the SAPFA website. We kick-start the new year off with a Fun Rally at Rand on 26 January, then on 23 March at Virginia Airport in Durban (there is a training session on the Friday evening, which is a good way to learn the ropes). The Rally Nationals are from 4 to 6 April in Stellenbosch, where the Saturday is open to Fun Rally teams as well. Look out also for Jonty Esser's very popular Speed Rallies, which provide good experience for prospective teams, although designed more for the Air Race fans.

To follow the progress of this event, and others, please check out the website at www.sapfa.org.za


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