The Pilot Insure Bethlehem Navigation Speed Rally-June 2019

By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Willie Bodenstein

Participants and organisers

The South African Power Flying Association held a very successful Speed Rally at Bethlehem on the 8th June 2019, this one being the 5th in the speed rally series which started in 2018. This event is going from strength to strength, attracting more and more participants, this time round the first 30 entries were snapped up within hours and when the entries were increased to 40 to accommodate the local clubs, there were another 10 entries within days, where a waiting list had to be started.

ZU-LAX - taking the scenic route along the Drakensberg

The Bethlehem Club went out of their way to make the organizing an easy affair, with Club Chairman Philip Jacobs making arrangements for food on site, accommodation and providing local members to assist with officiating. Some of the officials arrived early on Friday to prepare the course and finalize the entries and their handicaps, where test flights were done throughout the day. This event is one that is flown at full speed under handicap conditions. The course is around 125 nm long, has 11 or so turning points, with each turning point identified with a correct photograph. For this event, the route was mostly to the South of the airfield hugging the Drakensberg mountains in places

The weather was absolutely pristine, with hardly any wind and no clouds throughout the day, with Saturday being predicted to be the same. As an institution as part of the Speed Rally is that Mary de Klerk provides a training session in the afternoon, but with many teams already becoming well versed in this, Mary provided some dedicated training to teams.

The author during the briefing

Race Master Jonty Esser

Some of the competitors during the briefing

Thereafter at 18h00, Jonty Esser, as the Race Master introduced Rob Jonkers, who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turnpoints, distance, departure and arrivals protocol, and also how the scoring system would work with expected weather conditions, which looked as if it would be good.

Mobin Mohamed and Enock Kazimba

Hendrik and Jandre Loots

Team Pilot's Post- Phil Wakely and Mary de Klerk

David Ross and James Braid

Then all the competitors were treated to a briefing on Steroids on Friday night with the Speed Rally Race Master Jonty Esser having set up a show for the teams, with a real life lights, camera and action sequence. 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. The evening ended with a braai hosted by the Bethlehem Aero Club, before retiring for the night.

Johan Whiteman and Quintin Kruger

Alex Barichello and Mubarak Manaf

Piet Meyer and Adrienne Visser

Jaco Goosen and Carel du Preez

For Saturday the briefing started at 8h00, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather. With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, while the organisers got the papers ready. Each team would then receive an envelope with a map, turnpoint photos, a minute marker and a GPS logger to record their track. Aircraft were then also scrutineered with all portable electronic devices sealed up in bags. For this event Century Avionics, were on hand to also block off Aircraft GPS systems for those who volunteered.

One of the better tracks of the day - ZU-IBH

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 encourages the crew to share the workload and make it that much 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.

Coffee and muffins on race morning

ATCs' Rouvierre Roux and Roelof Jande van Rensburg with Safety Officer Nigel Musgrave

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.

Main sponsors Franz and Ashley Smith of Pilot Insure

Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle, Ashleigh and Jan-Paul were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices and also handing out papers at the allotted time, and also checking the fuel tanks were full. To assist the teams at getting their take-off roll accurate, a starting colour panel was used, which was set up next to the start line on the runway by Chief Marshal Jacques Jacobs and Mauritz du Plessis, who 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 then taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of take-off time. 1st take-off was at 10h20 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 10h45, with planned arrival at 11h30.

Rhett and Ryan Shillaw on the starting line

Eventual winners Leon Bouttel and Martin Meyer
With all the competitors off towards the west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints to contend with and to give competitors a chance to always be aware of where they were. Some turnpoints were a challenge find, especially if the colour of the surrounding ground features had changed since the photos were taken. In general, the competitors found the course difficult this time round and this is visible in the results with many turn point misses, there will be a few improvements that will be made with planning a route. It appears that the final chicane turnpoint remained elusive for many.

At virtually 11.30 the first aircraft over the line was the Sling of ZU-JAR, but unfortunately had missed two turnpoints and were thus out of the running as a winner. They were closely followed by the rest of the pack, all of the teams arriving within 7 minutes.

After all teams having returned, bar a Sportcruiser that lost its propeller and had to do a forced landing, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results. With the new loggers were able to complete the scores by 2 pm, given that there was an increase in the number of competitors, whereby everybody were given their score sheets. After this there was prize giving, which first started off showing some tracks of how many got lost around the course.

Eduard Scholtz with Ashley Smit

Leon Joubert and Sandy Goddard with Ashley Smit

The overall winners in the best handicap speed were the team of Eduard Scholtz and Johannes Streicher in a RV10 ZU-RVI, with second place awarded to Leon Joubert and Sandi Goddard in a Lancair ZU-LNC, and in third place Rhett and Ryan Shillaw in a Cessna 182 ZS-ECK. The first fourteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.

WInners Leon Bouttel amd Martin Meyer recieving their trophy from Ashley Smit

Quintin Kruger and Johan Whiteman with Ashley Smit

The winners in the accuracy category were the team of Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer in a Evektor Harmony ZU-FWS, in second place was Quinton Kruger and Johan Whiteman in a PA28-235 ZS-FVV, secured the runner up spot. Simon Abbot and Chris Shillaw in a Cirrus SR22 ZS-ACA secured third for their efforts.

Jonty and son Jonathan Esser taking off in their Cessna 150C

Sarel vd Merwe and Paul Potgieter flew in the Piaggio P.166S

Ryan Beaton and Franz Smit in the Vans RV-7

Many thanks to the Bethlehem Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Jacques Jacobs with the ground marshals, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos and Mauritz du Plessis doing the scoring with our handicapping guru Chester Chandler. Thanks Marc Robinson from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger for handing out competition papers to the crews as well as scrutineering, Jonty & Lizelle for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event. Thanks also extended to Danie Heath of the ARCC who was our first port of call on the force landing of the Sportscruiser to get the Search and Rescue function activated and the link into the CAA. At these types of events we need our guardian angels and their invaluable assistance.

Bethlehem AeroClub's Phillip Jacobs receiving the hosting trophy and during the braai

The Team Pilot's Post Cessna 210 of Phil Wakely and navigator Mary de Klerk

Also to the sponsors Pilot Insure, who was the main sponsor of the event, Flightline Weekly for sponsoring the race numbers, also to Pilot's Post for sponsoring the team of Phil Wakeley and Mary de Klerk. Pilots Post rationale behind the support is three pronged affair:-
the first one being that the Speed Rally as a brand is seen as the future of competitive flying, second being that the Speed Rally brand will add value to their brand and third being that they believe that Phil and Mary are the perfect ambassadors for Pilot's Post and they will carry our flag high.

Overall Results

Events 2019

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