Sports Aerobatics Club of SA Ace of Base Baragwaneth 6 Dec 2020

By Willie Bodenstein


In a year like no other in modern history, the Covid 19 virus preventive lockdown effectively stopped all forms of recreation aviation, resulting in the cancellation of both the Eastern Cape and KZN regional competitions and the postponement of the nationals first to August and then to end September.

The eventual easing of lockdown regulations eventually made the nationals possible and it was again hosted at New Tempe in Bloemfontein. So starved was the aviation community at large, and the aerobatic pilots in particular, that it was no surprise that the skies above New Tempe airfield were filled with the sound of high-performance aircraft engines.

Eugene du Preez during the safety briefing held in the JLPC Club House

The competition ran seamlessly, with competitors following each other without undue delays

The Judges, who spent most of the morning in the sun following the aircraft as they flew their sequences, relaxing after having submitted the results. From left to right Helm Ludwig, visitor and legend Stan Oliver, Quintin Hawthorne, Laszlo Liskay and Chief Judge John Gallaird. Not present were Johnie Smith and Claire Hamman

Lockdown was still in effect on Sunday 6 December when the Sports Acrobatic Club of SA held its annual Ace of Base. Hosted at Baragwaneth, the home field of the Johannesburg Light Plane club and like 2019 Ace of Base, this is the club's last competition year and traditionally the last aviation event of the year.

Jonty Esser, the originator of the hugely successful Speed Rally concept, competed in the Sportsman Class and finished 9th overall in his Zlin 50

Andrew Fletcher, who flew his Zlin 50 in the Advance Class, was placed 8th overall

Originally planned to start on Friday the 4th with a practice day and scheduled to continue into Saturday and Sunday, the weather gods intervened and no flying on Saturday was possible, this being the rainy season. On Sunday morning, while it cleared quickly at Bara, most of the feeder fields were closed because of low clouds, but fortunately later opened and with competitors arriving, the competition was on and the briefing, led by SAC Chairman Eugene du Preez, started in the JLPC Clubhouse.

Flying his Decathlon in the Sportsman Class, Bernard Botha finished 7th overall

Having competed in the Advanced Class in his Slick 360, Glen Warden finished in 6th place

The grounds, as always at Bara, were in in perfect condition and the two rounds, of known and unknown sequences, were flown in glorious sunshine with very little wind.

Flying all the way from Durban's Virginia Airport, Roger Deare who had competed in the Intermediate Class in his Extra 300 and was placed 5th overall.

Yak 52 pilot Igmar Bezuidenhout, who competed in the Sportsman Class, was 4th overall

Ace of Base differs from normal aerobatic competition, where the winner of the unlimited class is also crowned the winner of the event. At Ace of Base the class winner with the highest aggregate score is the winner and declared the Ace of Base. The format makes it possible for any entrant, irrespective of class entered, to win the coveted title.

3rd on the podium was taken by Andrew Blackwood-Murray who flew his Extra 300 in the Intermediate Class

2nd was Elton Bondi, an Advance Class competitor, who competed in his Extra 300L

New competitors start at Graduate level and proceed in complexity through Sportsman, Intermediate and Advanced, with Unlimited being the top competition level. The categories vary by difficulty of the individual aerobatic manoeuvres they contain, as well as the combination of those manoeuvres within the sequence.

And the Ace of Base 2020 is Warren Eva, who had competed in the Sportsman Class in his Yak 52

The scores of the competitors that have competed in four classes:- Sportsman, Intermediate, Advance and unlimited formed the basis of the judge's decision to award the title of Ace of Base.

The Netcare paramedic team was on standby during the day. Fortunately, there services were not needed.

Sponsored, by among others, Aircraft Unlimited and PSG Insurance, it seems as if Ace of Base has found a home at JLPC. Despite not having the numbers of entrants of last year, the event was in my opinion a success. A number of visitors either flew or drove in and Eugene and his team can be proud of having organised one of the nicest events of the year, largely starved of aviation.

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