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Saturday 6 November 2021 saw the second of what we hope will become a regular series of ANR events to be held at Stellenbosch Airfield. Air Navigation Racing is an ideal gateway to the world of Sports Aviation, as well as being entertaining and engaging for those left on the ground.
The turnout of 10 crews was slightly higher than last time and included a team from Morningstar - a welcome addition that can perhaps lead to a nice inter-Club competition in the future.
Tony doing the pre-race briefing.
As before, the crews ranged from young pilots looking to build and consolidate their flying experience to old hands looking to have a bit of fun! Those teams who took part last time could not wait to try again. The new joiners rose brilliantly to the slightly more challenging routes that were offered this time around.
Once again, a morning and an afternoon route were flown. The morning route (Orange) was a little simpler, with clearer turnpoints almost all of which were over well marked (on the map) ground features. The afternoon task (Yellow) upped the ante a little with some legs offering scant features within the channel and more challenging turnpoints.
Interestingly, almost all of the crews improved - in some cases quite a lot - over the more difficult afternoon course. It seems that with a bit of experience under their belt, pilots and navigators could use the first route to dial in their procedures and communication, and the second one to really build on their skills.
The biggest percentage improvement in navigation goes to Christiaan and Mauritz du Plessis who improved from 669 points to 30 and finishied first in Nav 2. The biggest points improvement goes to Megan Nel and Samuel Whittle who improved from 2950 to 1406. Alewyn Burger and Paul Smit were overall navigation winners with 546 points in total across the two routes.
The wind was kind to us. A gently increasing southerly throughout the day meant that the landing box was in play. Officially, ANR includes a scored landing at the end of each route. This did not take place last time as the wind then was from the north.
So the judges were out with notebooks and video phones, accidentally applying scores to quite a few people who were not participating! It's tricky to confirm the reg when you are only looking at the wheels. I am sure the judges, too, will improve with practise.
As with the navigation, landing scores improved markedly from the first session to the second. Perhaps it's easier to ignore the judges the second time around? Judging was great fun as always, and at this event fortunately did not elevate the pulse unexpectedly. Thank you, guys and gals, for the nice controlled approaches.
Best improvement here goes to Monja Kemp and Carlien Jordaan who came third on the second landing with just 60 points, behind Alewyn and Piet (Bingo, 0 points) and Thys van der Merwe and Sally Shaw with 45 points.
Alewyn Burger and Paul Smit won landings overall with a combined score for both landings of 30.
Finally, at the risk of repetition, Alewyn Burger and Paul Smit in ZS-LOU, a Cessna 180, were overall winners of the event with a combined total of 846 points. For those doing the maths, there is a multiplier applied to the landing score to give it equal weighting with the nav portion - hence the jump from 30 points to 300. Joining them on the podium are Christiaan and Mauritz with 2199 total points, and then Thys and Sally with 2267 total points.
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The live links for the routes were shared on the Stellenbosch club group and also on the SAPFA sport flyers group. Quite a few remote spectators followed along and commented as the routes unfolded, including at least one from Europe; and of course, a crowd gathered in the clubhouse to watch on the TV there.
In the afternoon session, with everyone more comfortable and less traffic at the airfield, the gap between starts was reduced to 5 minutes. This meant up to 4 aircraft in the channel at a time and the first landings happening before the final departure. So spectators were spoiled for choice in terms of what to look at.
Safety is critical in sport aviation. Although there is nothing specifically laid down in the rules, the Club safety officer took the sensible decision to apply a minimum experience level for this event. But Stellenbosch is well known for its training standards, and the school is constantly producing new and enthusiastic flyers.
It was really nice to meet some of these young PPLs who did not yet meet the requirements but were sitting in on the briefings or just watching the routes unfold. The eagerness to get their hours and join in holds great promise for the future of sport flying. And in return, there is no better foundation for a future aviation career than the opportunity to apply your basics to the highest possible standard, and to be rewarded with fun, challenge, sportsmanship and possibly one day a medal or two.
The tracks flown.
The details of the next event will be published in due course. For juniors who are perhaps still not quite there, you are most welcome to sit in or to join the judging team. Or if you really truly cannot wait to compete, then find yourself a pilot that you can persuade, and offer yourself as a navigator. We would love nothing better than for the event to be fully subscribed.
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