Father and son Hendrik and Jandre Loots Rally Flying Competitors

By Willie Bodenstein (Photos by Willie Bodenstein and supllied)

Memories Forever


As a young man, Hendrik was extremely active and sport always played a big part of his life. He was a talented rugby player and throughout his school career, he played Cravenweek rugby. On a junior level, he played for Maties and Western Province U/20's. On a senior level, he played many games for Boland as well as for Namibia. He mentioned with all modesty that his "claim to fame" had to do with the fact that he was the first ever Namibian scrumhalf.

In his early thirties, he got married, his life changed and centered around work and marital commitments. On weekends, he and his wife, Adele spent the majority of their free time competing in road races and later took part in a number of Comrades and Two Ocean Marathons. A few months before his 40th birthday, he experienced his first flight as a passenger in a microlight trike and this is where the flying bug bit him. On his 40th birthday, he completed his solo flight and after that, nothing could stop him.

Shortly after his solo flight, he was introduced to competitive flying by his flying instructor, Larry Eschner. After only 158 hours of flying, Hendrik was chosen to be part of the South African Microlight Flying Team in which he represented South Africa at the Microlight World Championship in the Czech Republic. After that, he started flying a variety of trikes and fixed wing aircraft and currently owns a Sling 2.

Hendrik's passion for flying was so contagious and that motivated him to start building his Sling 2. The building process took him a total of 2 years and currently he and his Sling are flying all over the country. The reasons why he decided on the Sling was firstly, that it is a true South African product and secondly, is that the Sling is a perfectly balanced aircraft which out-performs other aircraft in its class while being highly economical and fun to fly.

Jandre's first flight

Hendrik's son, Jandrč, has been interested in flying ever since he was little and spent hours in the air with his dad. They have been flying together in fun competitions since 2008. Jandrč also enjoys spending his time flying radio-controlled planes and 3D radio-controlled helicopters. He said that flying radio-controlled helicopters is a totally different dimension of flying and that one's hand-eye coordination is tested to the maximum. After school, he went for his in-service training at Aerosud, under the supervision of the chairman of the Aeroclub, Rob Jonkers. In 2018 he qualified as an "Aircraft Sheet Metal Specialist". His love for flying has no limit as he is currently busy with his Private Pilot License.

The feeling of flying is in his blood and helped him to successfully complete his solo flight after only 7 hours of training.

Jandrč is currently working for UDS, which stands for UAV and Drone Solutions as a fixed-wing drone pilot. He has also started his own company which specializes in fixed-wing drone development.

Every flight for Jandrč and Hendrik is considered to be a highlight but specifically for Hendrik, the cherry on top was to represent South Africa in a World Flying Championship. For Jandrč, his childhood dream came true when he was selected, together with his dad Hendrik, to represent South Africa in the World Rally Flying Championship, which was scheduled to be held at Stellenbosch in 2021. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to COVID and travel restrictions. SAPFA Chairman, Rob Jonkers and his co-workers, did a final proposal to FAI General Aviation Commission Navigation to host the 22nd World Rally Flying Championship at Brits in November 2022. This proposal was approved and now it's GAME ON!!!

In Jandre's words: "Luckily we have another opportunity in November 2022. We are dedicated to put everything to work in the qualifying rounds to see if we can make the team again". He said proudly, that as a team, he and his father complement one another. Each one of us knows what to do to simplify the workload in the cockpit. My father and I are competitive individuals and the Speed Rallies as well as the Navigation Rallies, give us that adrenaline rush that comes with being competitive. The fact that you have to fly to the second (Navigation Rallies) and accurately/fast (Speed Rallies), is a new and other dimension of flying. You learn so much more of one another as a team. It makes you a better pilot and navigator as well. We as "Team Loots" have become a well-known name in the Speed Rally environment. When flying the Speed Rallies, we concentrate especially on altitude control, good overall speed with the main focus on accurate navigation. It helps us as we were crowned Speed Rally Champions for 2020. Real Champions for sure.

For Hendrik it is about one thing: "To compete is fun, but the quality of father and son that participates together with a common goal is special. The special moments with my son are what counts for me. There are life lessons that are learnt in high pressure situations during flying competitions and the time that is spent with one another is on a different level than the normal time spent at home. To share the passion of flying as father and son is precious.

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