Pilot's Post to sponsor Team number one in Speed Rally

By Willie Bodenstein

Since its inception and the first Speed Rally hosted by the Secunda Flying Club 0n 12 October 2018 this new format has grown to such an extent that the number of entrants originally capped at 30 per event had to be increased to 35 due to demand from competitors. Still all the events were oversubscribed.

Speed Rally competitors at Secunda….

………..and at Springs

The main purpose of the series is to create a fun, fast paced, high energy, challenging and safe flying series of navigation races in which pilots can test and improve their skills. Unlike other Rallies, the Speed Rally format allows for GPS's to be used although this is frowned upon. No plotting is required; route and magnetic direction is pre-printed on maps that are provided 20 minutes before take-off. Course distance is an easy 120nm with chicanes between major turn points. Nice and easy to identify turn point photos are provided. Altitude is restricted to 6300' and the lowest height of AGL 300' is applied. Flight tests are available before each race to set handicap speed.

Three Rallies, Secunda, Springs and Morninstar have now been completed and the team of Phil Wakely and Mary de Klerk are currently the series leaders. When the opportunity arrived to sponsor a team in the Speed Rally series Pilot's Post jumped at it. We are indeed honoured to have Phil and Mary as our ambassadors in the Speed Rally series of races. We have no doubts that they will fly the flag high. The first Rally that the team will fly in Pilot's Post colours will be the Middelburg Rally. The Rally forms part of the Aero Club of South Africa's Air Week billed as four days of aviation fun.

Phil was born 28 March 1963 and grew up in Suffolk in the UK. Living close to an ex WWII RAF airfield Phil's passion for flying started early. He still vividly remembers occasionally being allowed into a de Havilland HS125 Dominie during one of his numerous visits to the field.

Phil got his PPL in the late 1980s after topping up his bond to allow the necessary funds to pay lessons and hours. Unfortunately, the price of flying in England was so prolific he could not afford to carry on. Fortunately, his then wife at the time worked for Britainia Airways and they could travel overseas on the cheap. South Africa became their favorite destination and flying once more became a possibility as it was so cheap in comparison to the UK due to the rand/pound exchange rate.

In 1997 they moved to South Africa and he bought his first aircraft, ZS-CEP, a PA22 in September 2002. His son Scott flew with him every weekend for many years until a power loss after takeoff happened in January 2007 on a farm strip near Krugersdorp. ZS-LLH, a C182, arrived in May the same year. During 2007 Scott and Phil did a few fun rallies and there he met Mary and she persuaded them to enter the 2008 PTAR. Since then he has never missed a PTAR. Scott has been flying commercially for a few years and has not been able to race since 2017 so Phil asked Mary if she was interested in being his navigator and consequently they flew together at last year's PTAR as well as Race for Rhinos in Botswana. When they heard of the new Speed Rally's, it seemed obvious that they should start this fun racing.

Mary de Klerk started flying at Virginia Airport in 1989 and two years later earned a place in the KZN Precision and Rally Flying Team. She was awarded Protea Colours in 1995 and has since represented South Africa in over 23 International Competitions all over the world in Rally Flying, Precision Flying and Air Navigation Racing. In 2011 she was one of only three international female pilots to compete in the World Precision Flying Championships which was held in Brits in the North West Province. She has also participated in many Air Races having won both the President's Trophy Air Race and the Race of Champions. She has participated in, captained and managed all three SA Flying Teams for the past 23 years. More recently and together with the expert aviation skills of Phil Wakeley, she has been ceded No 1 in the Speed Rally Series.

Mary has been an active member on the South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) committee for many years and dedicates much of her time to running a very successful Fun Rally Program to introduce new blood into the sport of Rally and Precision Flying while continuing to participate herself. As an EAA member Mary has also had close links with the EAA Young Eagles program and worked to introduce young aviators into the sport of Rally Flying.

In 2020 Mary will act as Competition Director for the 23rd FAI WORLD RALLY FLYING CHAMPIONSHIPS which will be held in Stellenbosch and which has attracted hundreds of international participants and families from all over the world. It is Mary's Mission to uplift and make a positive difference in the World of General Aviation in South Africa.

Pilot's Post, the official media partner of the Aero Club of South Africa, is an online aviation magazine now in its eighth year of publication that focusses on aviation events, history, products and stories in South Africa as well as the rest of the world. Pilot's Post publish updates twice a week (every Sunday and every Wednesday) to ensure that our readers are updated and entertained without the long delays as with traditional printed media. We aim to cover all aviation events in South Africa so that we may share the experience with readers in other regions or with those who could not make it to the event.

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