There is a lot to be said about an event that has stood the test of time. It speaks about a sense of camaraderie, a sense of togetherness and an appetite for a good amount of fun. The Africa Cup is just such an event with its' history harking back to the 1980's.
I was excited to be invited to cover the event for Pilot's Post by Brett Hickman.
I arrived in Hazyview late on Thursday evening, having travelled from Pretoria. The N4 proved to be quite a challenging route with several sections of road works making the going somewhat strained. I settled in for the next day, where Brett informed me that we should start seeing action from about 05h45.
I arrived at the airfield at about 05h30 just in time to capture the setting moon in the west and a few minutes later, the rising sun in the east.
As the competition was continuing from the previous day, the visiting pilots were chomping at the bit to get airborne. Most of the participating pilots had already started preparing their machines for the first task of the second day of the competition, being a navigation exercise. The navigation task saw the pilot's route from Numbi with a set of photographs to identify. Some true depictions of what was along the route, some a distraction and even a bonus photo had to be identified. The route had to be flown at a nominated speed and each participant was timed from departure to the time that they arrived overhead. The task was completed with a spot landing on the Numbi runway in the designated "bingo" box.
I captured the following departures.
With the departures being staggered, the arrivals also took a staggered form and I captured the crews returning home.
The airfield was abuzz with activity and several other visitors arrived.
The returning crews had to check back in with the competition director to confirm the photos they observed from the air. Some had a look of concentration, others a look of consternation which I captured from a little distance away. No matter what the outcome, a huge amount of fun was had by all.
Between the morning and afternoon sessions, there was a break to allow for the warm Lowveld air to cool to ensure the remaining tasks could be completed safely. During this time, the very well-known former chief of SASAR, Santjie White, was in attendance to speak about the importance of search and rescue operations and how pilots can ensure that they can be found and assisted if the worst was to happen. Santjie emphasized the need for all pilots to ensure that they have at the very least let their family know where they are headed and when to expect them. She also made all the attending pilots aware of the numbers that they or their loved ones can contact when in need of assistance. These numbers are listed below.
Santjie also shared ideas for additional items that one could carry in a grab bag in your aircraft: water, space blanket, lighter, pocket knife,
compass, mirror, power bank, personal locator beacon and an umbrella. She conveyed to the group that these were recommendations made by survivors of accidents. These items, it was said, would have made survival somewhat more bearable.
With the informative presentation by Santjie concluded, it was time for all to retire to their accommodation for some respite from the mid-afternoon Lowveld heat. It was agreed that the afternoon tasks would be briefed at the Numbi hotel's pool at 3pm.
The afternoon briefing consisted of an overview of the activities still to take place as well as scrumptious boerewors rolls, prepared by ever present and attentive team at Numbi hotel. I captured these unsuspected shots during the briefing and subsequent fun question and answer session.
With the afternoon session briefing completed, it was time to head over to the runway, which is conveniently located right next to the Numbi hotel. From where the briefing was held to the runway could not be more than 300 meters.
The afternoon session started with the 4-minute circuit challenge where the pilots had to fly a circuit from takeoff to landing in 4 minutes. I must say that this intrigued me and I am quite keen to go and practice this when I fly next. The next event was two flour bombing runs and finally a bog-roll cut. With a strong North-Easterly breeze, the gyrocopter- and fixed pilots were first to take-off. As the wind died down, the trike pilots joined in on the fun.
With the shadows drawing longer, the final scores were tallied and it was time for the initiation of new pilots to the Africa Cup. It must be said that some returning names were not spared the attention of the initiation team. The laughter could be heard for miles away, I am sure!
All initiations completed; it was time for the prize-giving event in the main banqueting area. The area was excellently prepared by the team at Hotel Numbi. As is natural at the Africa Cup, there was some fun prizes to be awarded during the evening, once again all done with a tongue in cheek, with the laughter ringing through the Lowveld Air.
It was time to finally award the prizes to the top achieving pilots for this years' Africa Cup.
Top Honors Went to: Kevin Wood - First Placed Pilot.
Top Rookie JJ Cronje - Second Place Overall
Willie van der Merwe - Third Place Overall
Left to Right
Kevin Wood, JJ Cronje, Andy Kaspersen, Willie van der Merwe
Background - Rob McFie
1st Kevin Wood
2nd JJ Cronje
3rd. W van de merwe
Rookie 1st Kevin
Rookie 2nd JJ Cronje
Rookie 3rd Steven Shulman
Bogroll. Andre van zyl
Circuit master. JJ
Draadtrekker. Greg Henessey
Flour bomb Andre
Airmanship Johan Welman
Gees Douglas Inggs
In closing, if you are a general aviation pilot, flying a light sport aircraft, a trike or a gyrocopter, if you think you would enjoy three days of relaxed, safe and competitive flying and if you are looking to have a fantastic time, Africa Cup Numbi is for you. It was a memorable weekend with some spectacular flying and camaraderie that one can only dream about. Thank you to the entire MISASA team for hosting Pilots Post! We will see you in 2022!
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