Aero Club Awards 2019 Chairpersons Address

By Paul Lastrucci

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take the opportunity at the outset of making a special welcome to all our invited guests and to every single person here today

Special mention to Mary Stephens and Neil de Lange from the SA CAA, Bruce Harrison, Chairperson of RAFOC, Jeff Earle the past Aero Club Chairman and their partners, as well as Jonty Esser, the MC.

Today we celebrate the achievements of our Aero Club members who have contributed for many years and also to those that have represented our country in a numerous recreational aviation disciplines this year, we will share these special times with friends and fellow members as they receive well deserved accolades and awards for their achievements.

Air Show South Africa - ASSA

Every year, and this one is no exception, we see a number of South African aviation enthusiasts achieve so much, well beyond our international standing, and through their efforts it's confirmed that the South African recreational aviation fraternity continues to be held in high regard worldwide.

On as slightly sombre note our Aero Club membership numbers have declined this year 2018 -19 from 3479 to 3115 members currently, largely due to the tough economic conditions, a turbulent regulatory environment and a few other challenges that we find ourselves in that plays a large part in lessening the recreational participation within the sections. We have also declined by over 1000 members from 2014 to date, so we knew that 2019 will be a challenging year for the Aero Club. Given this we could not be paralysed by the boiled frog syndrome, so we attempted to interpret these conditions by taking a strategic view and as to how we will increase membership. To support thus we developed a high road budget and a low road budget in order to be proactive as to how we would go forward in 2019, this to ensure that we remain solvent and are able to provide the work we do to the recreational aviator.

Balloon Association of South Africa - BAFSA

The low road budget meant that we would have to continue the business however with reduced expenses and without the services of the general manager and increase sponsorships. It was concluded through various meetings held, to use a model where the Exco, office staff and designated council chairpersons, aero club members and others with the requisite skills in the various advocacy and technical areas are co-opted to tackle the tasks that the General Manager would have ordinarily done during his tenure. This would then replace the General Managers role. This also paved the way after numerous permutations of the business we reduced subscription costs to attract more members

In March of this year given the subscription income and the landscape before us, it was obvious that we would have to embark on the low road budget which reluctantly was done. It was a difficult task and the decision to proceed with the model was adopted. A huge debt of gratitude to section council chairpersons that have availed their time and resources to attend meetings and seminars where the necessary representation is paramount to ensure we continue to strive within the recreational aviation environment ensuring freedom of flight where at all possible. It has been challenging, however through expert guidance of the representative team we are progressing forward.

Experimental Aircraft Association of South Africa - EAA

Our aim continues to focus to make aviation appealing to the recreational aviator and the youth, in order for them to share and progress in the wonderful passion of all types of aviation sport offered by the various sections of the Aero Club in South Africa.

Our Aero Club Air week which now is an annual event had its origins specifically to showcase the differed type of recreational disciplines to aviation enthusiasts and encourage the youth alike as a platform to nurture and grow the passion where 2019 was no different and the team at Middelburg under the leadership of Richard Lovett have made this a prestigious event a great success on our aviation calendar.

We are also fortunate to have in our midst many professional and retired professional career and military aviators that continue to share their mentorship and guidance to anyone who is interested in aviation in South Africa. They avail themselves freely to provide leadership, guidance at the various information exchanges throughout the year and would like to thank all involved that contribute to the Safety Campaign.

Microlight and Sport Aircraft Association of South Africa - MISASA

SAMAA is a pinnacle special interest group that in many ways has created the entry point for a lifelong passion in aviation for many in South Africa and they continue to do this very well. This I have always believed is largely where the passion for aviation is born.

EAA SA, led by Sean Cronin, continues to host and represent many enthusiastic events on the calendar throughout the year. A number of completed amateur built projects took to the skies, we saw a beautiful Radial Rocket aircraft take to the sky as well as a superbly crafted RV built by long-time EAA member Derek Hopkins and his son Nigel fly for the first time this year. Chapter 322 celebrates its 50th year in South Africa this year and huge thanks to the EAA team under the leadership to Ret Capt. Karl Jensen and Sean Cronin for their untiring effort and promotion of the EAA in SA.

Parachute Association of South Africa - PASA

The Misasa and SAGPA team contribute immensely to the various interactions held during the year and through Chairperson John Boucher and particularly Rowena Kraidy, Yolande Combrinck and Eric Torr that have been at the pinnacle in providing input and direction at the AP Panel and ARO workshops that was established this year to take this ever important aspect of recreational aviation and its continuance forward. Many thanks also to Mary Stephens and the team from the SA CAA that have facilitated the AP panel and also been instrumental in its guidance and formation.

Worldwide within the aviation industry it is expected to have a safe and regulated environment in all aspects of flying and recreational aviation is no different. There is sometimes a tendency to over regulate however with continued engaging with the regulator in a constructive and mutually beneficial manner, we find workable solutions that is pursuant to avoid any over-regulation of the amateur sports aviation, and also assist to work toward international compliance that is required.

Regulations are dynamic so it's good that that existing regulations are revisited from time to time, in a manner that continues to ensure optimal safety for aviators and the public at large as well as ensure acceptable governance required by the regulator.

Sport Aerobatic Club - SAC

Recently further alignment and review of the sections to Part 149 ARO which is the regulatory framework within the civil aviation regulations is in process within ARO's where strong representation is in place at these forums now with the regulator to streamline and improve going forward.

Being an aviator, one of the pre requisites is being a safe aviator, and recurrent honing of skills can be done at events that take place at least once a month within SAPFA. The fun navigational rallies are the precursor to providing fun and competition flying to our recreational aviators to become accurate navigational flyers. Rob Jonkers, Jonty Esser and the SAPFA team have raised the bar considerably with fun rallies and have untiringly provided a professional platform that attracts many aviators to these sporting, skill honing events. We have world champions in our midst that impart these skills to new pilots or pilots that want to get involved. Next year SAPFA hosts the international rally competition at Stellenbosch as part of the Aero Club centenary celebrations. A round of applause ladies and gentlemen is in order.

South African Gyroplane Association - SAGPA

We continue to bring the joy and passion of flying, and being involved in the recreational aviation industry at large to a vibrant youth in South Africa. This through the efforts of the Aero Club Transformation and development programmes, which has changed slightly with the formation of Rise Above Aviators. This is championed by Daniel Ralefeta, himself a highly energetic enthusiastic and capable aviator along with a team; they ensure representation and participation throughout the year, by promoting recreational aviation amongst the youth that ordinarily would not have had easy access to aviation. We are seeing fruits of their efforts of not only mentoring and creating future aviators; however, we have seen participation competing in the SAPFA fun rallies and soon we will see participation on the world stage competing in various disciplines, bringing home the trophy and accolades that will be showcased at events like this.

It all starts with dedication, direction and passion that are continually kindled in the recreational sphere providing consistent and safe participation within the path chosen to reach their pinnacle. Aero Club provides funding through projects to promote provide the platform to bring recreational aviation to the youth with a long term view of establishing the future aviators in South Africa.

All our sections are well established and professional, and portray a strong room full of experience and knowledge that resides within their specific disciplines and they make it available to existing and attract new members.

South African Hang and Paragliding Association - SAHPA

To the sections and members of SAHPA, SAPFA, SAMAA, SAC and SSSA that represented South Africa this year thank you for your dedication and commitment to your sport by your enthusiasm and professionalism you make us very proud.

Equally special thanks to John Gaillard and Bob Skinner for representing the AeroClub at the FAI.

We also need to acknowledge the contribution of the industry players like the Airplane Factory, the various ATO's and the commercial AP's and CAASA who provide valuable input into recreational aviation.

South African Association of Model Aircraft - SAAMA

The effort and support we get from the Aero Club council team whom I am privileged to act as the Chairperson and through our Vice Chairman Rob Jonkers, who is a superman when it comes to steadfast and discipline planning and to Hanke Fourie for his strict and fair role as our treasurer. But their efforts are in no way discounting the tremendous input and support and frank disagreement where necessary when we interact with each section head and representatives on the Aero Club Council. - Sean Cronin, Rikus Erasmus, Rob Jonkers, Richard Bovell, Simon Smith, John Boucher, Rowena Kraidy, Mark Bellingan, Walter Doubell, Yolande Combrink, Pete Wallenda, Marthinus Potgieter, Bob Skinner, Sean de Klerk, Daniel Ralefeta, Kevin Storie, John Gaillard and our dedicated office staff Sandra Strydom and new appointee this year Charne Smit for their assistance. With exception of our office staff almost all are volunteers that also have demanding careers and family lives. Sincere thanks for your contributions and concise efforts to promote and keep recreational aviation in this country.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to our colleagues at the SA CAA in particular Neil De Lange, Mary Stephens, Subash Devkaran and their teams for all their support over the year at Aero Club. Despite the many challenges that arise we are sure that with energetic interactions the SACAA they will meet and exceed the industry leading excellence in service delivery.

South African Power Flying Association - SAPFA

We launched a document assistance process at the Aero Clubs offices to assist members with submission and follow up of documentation delivered for processing at SA CAA. There are challenges however, but this has worked exceptionally well and we will continue to promote.

As has been widely publicised, in 2020 we celebrate our centenary, and want to make it a memorable year in every possible manner for all in South African aviation.

We are rapidly approaching the festivities for 2020, planning is well under way, there is still a vast amount of work to be done in preparations for the celebration, and 2020 will be the year in which formal actions will be in place to execute the current plan. Marie Reddy, our Aviation Super Woman that keeps us all on our toes, has put in tremendous effort here and in many other areas to ensure success - many thanks Marie.

The team have completed a prospectus of activities, outputs and events, and have started to circulate this within the Recreational Aviation community. Much of this will be completed by year end, this prospectus outlines the overall plan for 2020.

Soaring Society of South Africa - SSSA

Highlights will be the Governor General's Cup Air Race in the format held initially in 1937, which became the President's Trophy Air Race as a feature air race on the 2020 calendar. Plans are in place in cooperation with the SAAF to hold the Silver Queen Air Rally from Swartkops as a theme rally. The Aero Club will be holding the annual Airweek at Middelburg as the signature centenary event for the year that encompasses all our sections and extend the period of activities with the ambition to achieve a Oshkosh type of event which is a fly-in, airshow, forums, fly markets and camping to bring together our recreational fraternity and also promote youth development. This year's Airweek held at Middelburg was a precursor to 2020 where we were on a smaller scale able to achieve many of these features.

The team has started the outline of a Centenary Yearbook supported by SA Airlink. Content has mostly been sourced during 2018 and the writing process will begin in January 2019. As you can see, this project is a mammoth task and has a year to go, and anybody willing to step up to the plate to contribute would be well appreciated.

Transformation and Development - T & D

So as can be seen we have progressed steadily in the planning and framework of showcasing this prestigious milestone. We urge all sections to start finalising the planning for the section events that will compliment a full program during the celebrations. The plans and wish list we have cannot be achieved by the small competent team we have alone, so I am appealing to all sections to get involved and support us.

In closing this afternoon, a special thank you once again to each and every one here today for making Aero Club the special club it is.

Thank You and Enjoy the rest of the proceedings.

Paul Lastrucci

Events 2019
Aero Club of SA

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