SAPFA - The South African Power Flying Association

By Willie Bodenstein


Formed in 1988, the South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) is an independent association affiliated to the Aero Club of South Africa. The Aero Club was formed in 1920 and was the established National Controlling Body for Aviation. At the end of the war in 1945, the Aero Club set about the re-establishment of clubs throughout South Africa. Initially the Aero Club represented only power flying, but as other branches of aviation developed, new sections were formed.

In the 1980's, the sections of Aero Club were constituted as independant organisations, all affiliated to Aero Club and subscribing to the aim's objectives of Aero Club in their particular branch of aviation.

SAPFA members, competitors and organisers at the PTAR, Springs 2017

Membership of the South African Power Flying Association is controlled by the Aero Club of South Africa and membership fees for 2021 are as follows:
Fees for 2021 - renewable from 1st December 2021:
The Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA) R 540.00
South Africa Power Flying Association (SAPFA) R 400.00
FAI Sporting License R 210.00 (Required for National and International Competitions)

Membership fees can be made online by clicking on the following link and then on AEROPAY, which will take you to the Aero Club Blue Box system.

Pylon Pacing at Parys Airfield

SAPFA represents the following power flying activities:
>> Air Racing - The Presidents Trophy Air Race held annually (with a crew of two). The air race is one of the most prestigious events on the South African aviation calendar and has a long and wonderful history. It was originally known as the Governor General's Cup Air Race and was first held in 1937.
>> Speed Rallies - The Speed Navigation rally is similar to the Fun Navigation Rally, except that it is rally against a pre-determined handicap speed, based on a selected throttle power setting. The course is around 120 nm with an average of 10 turn points (with a crew of two).
>> Rally Navigation Competitions are held bi-monthly in fun & advanced formats (with a crew of two).
>> Precision Navigation Competitions are held together with rally competitions (with a crew of one).
>> Precision Landing Championships (with a crew of one).
>> Pylon Racing. Currently inactive.

The Rally & Precision Navigation Competitions are run along the lines of International FAI rules and form part of the SASCOC sporting event codes for World Games. SAPFA holds yearly National Selection Competitions to select teams to take part in the World Rally and Precision Navigation Competitions.

The World Rally Championships are held yearly and hosted across the continents. South Africa hosted the 7th World Rally Flying Championships at Stellenbosch Airfield in 1991, the 13th World Rally Flying Championships and again at Pilanesberg Airfield in 2003 when Nigel Hopkins and Dale De Klerk were crowned World Champions.

In 1999, they finished in third place. In 2011 we hosted the 20th World Precision Flying Championships at Brits Airfield.

This year, during November, Stellenbosch will again play host to the World Rally Flying Championships.

At the first ever World ANR Championships hosted by Aeroclub Castellon, Spain held in September 2017, team South Africa did not disappoint, with Frank and Cally Eckard winning gold with two landings on the zero line and one 3m after it. Mary de Klerk secured 7th and Hans Schwebel 15th.

The President's Trophy Air Race is traditionally run annually at the end of May each year. It is a handicap race and open to all Class C1 aircraft with reciprocating engines. This event is probably the South African aviation event with the largest number of competitors. It has been attracting approximately 100 crews over the past few years.

Speed Rally at Witbank

Handicaps are developed to attempt to give each aircraft a chance of winning. The handicap system also allows aircraft of different types to compete against each other.

The race is a two-day event. Each day, competitors fly a course of approximately 320 nautical miles. Entrants need to have a minimum cruise speed of 100 knots and be able to cover the distance with proper legal reserves remaining.

Speed Rally Springs 2019

The Aero Club is affiliated to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world controlling body for sport aviation. No competitive recreational flying activity in South Africa is recognized without Aero Club approval. This includes world record attempts.

SAPFA is the controlling authority for South African speed and altitude records. Records are based on aircraft weight and are for the highest speed over various distances or the shortest time to climb to certain altitudes. There are also records for maintaining the greatest altitude. The record attempts must be made in accordance with the rules laid down from time to time and observed by persons appointed by SAPFA.

PTAR at Bloemfontein 2018

The following flights are recognised for purposes of records:

Distance Records: -
- Distance without landing.
- Distance over a closed circuit without landing.

Altitude Records:
- Altitude without payload.
- Altitude, aeroplane launched from ship.
- Altitude in horizontal flight without payload.
- Altitude with payload.
- Greatest payload carried to height of 2 000 and 15 000 metres.
- Time to climb to various heights.

Speed Records:
- Speed over a straight 3-kilometre course at restricted altitude.
- Speed over straight course with minimum length 15 kilometres and maximum length 25 kilometres.
- Speed over closed circuit, without landing.
- Course lengths are 100, 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000 and then by increases of 5 000 kilometres.
- Speed over closed circuit, without landing. Course lengths are 100, 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000 and 10 000 kilometres without payload.
- Speed around the world, nonstop and non-refuelled.
- Speed around the world, eastbound and westbound.
- Speed around the world over both the Earth's poles.
- Speed over commercial air route.
- Speed over commercial air route in excess of 6 500 kilometres.
- Speed over recognised courses.

PTAR at Saldana 2019

The Aero Club of South Africa has designated flights between the major cities in South Africa as recognised courses. The cities designated are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. Flights between certain of these cities are under the minimum 400 kilometre distance and no record will be allocated for them.

The most recent World Records set by a South African are the ones set by Chalkie Stobbart. Chalkie, smashed the 70-year-old record set by Alex Henshaw in 1939 for a round trip between Cape Town and London.

Speed rally at Witbank

Other current South African record holders in the various recognised speed categories are: Anthony Russel and Pamela Russel in a Vans RV 10, Mike Davis in an Osprey GP4, Fredi Koekemoer in a Rand Robinson KR2, Pat Hanley and Frikkie Greef in a Mooney Acclaim, Chris Briers and Attie Botha in a Daher Socata, Johan Strasheim and Willie Breytenbach in an Aerostar 600, Mark Nel and Hugo vd Berg in a Boeing 737, Chalkie Sobbart in an Osprey GP 4, Chris Booysen in a Cessna 210, George Brink in a Vans RC4, Jan Hannekom in a Vans RV 7A, Jon Johansen in his RV 4A, Terry Redman and Charles Laverty in a Bombardier Learjet 60 and Ron Wheeldon and Gary Huges in a Hawker Hunter T68.

Roger Mills, flying the Aerospatiale Concorde, holds two speed record: - one from Lagos to Cape Town and the other for Marrakech to Cape Town. Brian Wadpole is the Cape Town to London and London to Cape Town records holder, also flown in Aerospatiale Concorde.

Altitude records are held by Chris vd Hoof in a Cozy Mk IV. The late Chris Booysen in a Vans RV7A holds the time to climb record as does the late Dave Stock in an English Electric Lightning.

More details on South African records can be found on the SAPFA website

What makes SAPFA such a successful section of the Aero Club is without a shadow of a doubt the love of its members for aviation and the passion they have for the sport of Rally flying.

I will never forget and never be able to thank SAPFA and its members enough for their moral and financial support when my camera equipment was stolen during the last PTAR held at Ermelo during May. Their generosity and support were totally unbelievable and needless to say, hugely appreciated. Thank you SAPFA and thank you to all its wonderful members.

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