On Saturday 18 September the first Junior Coetzee Memorial Contest was held at the Johannesburg Light Plane Club's immaculate airfield at Baragwaneth in the south of Johannesburg.
Andrew Blackwood-Murray, Roger Deare and I were on the apron at an overcast Rand when two Rocket medical emergency helicopters and two others departed. We speculated where they were of too and what had happened.
Andrew Blackwood - Murray with me as passenger in his Nashua sponsored Extra 300L in formation with Ecko's Roger Deare in his Extra 300 en route to Bara.
Arriving at Baragwaneth, we found all four helicopters on the ground and it was only then that we found out why they were there and who Junior Coetzee was.
Despite not being a pilot himself, Junior who tragically passed away 20 years ago in a motor accident and was instrumental in getting the clubhouse at Bara, that for years has been the home of competition aerobatics and the first airfield with an aerobatics box, built. His involvement in aerobatics raised the Sport Aerobatic Club to a level of involvement and enjoyment in the 1990s, which is still evident to this day.
This special event was held in conjunction with the combined North-West and Gauteng Regional Aerobatic contests, and is a fitting salute to the endeavours of Junior and the SAC committee. Contestants, friends and family were united in sharing quality time, laughter, lunch, drinks and aerobatics sponsored by the Coetzee family, Henley Air and Rocket HEMS. Fond memories and smiles overcame many tears in celebrating Junior's remarkable life.
Junior was just 41 and is still loved and missed to this day.
Jack, Andre, Jason and Johann with the memorial plague.
Rocket paramedics present on the day
.volunteered to be on standby in case what we never want to see does happen. Here they are been shown how to open the canopies and release the harnesses.
The Raptors flew a missing man formation in honour of Junior Coetzee.
The clouds remained low:- , it was cold and rather miserable and to top it all, the wind started pumping.
By 11h30, conditions had improved to such an extent that flying was almost possible. The caterers had lunch ready and since they had another event later, the consensus was to have lunch after which time the clouds would hopefully have lifted to allow the competition to commence.
Indeed, after lunch, the conditions had sufficiently improved to allow the competition to start. Eleven entries were received, but one had to withdraw due to another commitment. There were no entries in the unlimited and RV class.
After the safety briefing the first aircraft, a Van's RV 7 took off for its known sequence.
Ian Beaton finished third in the Sportsman Class.
Thys Kuhn took second place in the Sportsman Class.
Trevor Warner, who previously flew the Extra in the Intermediate Class, was an unofficial entry in the Sportsman Class
Warren Eva was placed first in the Sportsman Class.
Roger Dear was placed 2nd in the Intermediate Class.
Dustin Hughes was the winner in the Intermediate class.