Robertson ANR - Perfect weather, perfect venue

By Pam Russell. Photos by Pam and Mauritz du Plessis


The landing box

SAPFA, together with the Robertson Flying Club held an Air Navigation Race (ANR) competition at the beautiful Robertson Airfield on Saturday, 25 June, and what a day it was!

Since ANR is designed to introduce pilots to sport flying by means of a short-course, accessible competition, the weekend started with a Friday night briefing. Pilots and organizers from Morningstar, Stellenbosch and Robertson airfields assembled at the Jaffie Aviation Training hangar promptly at 6pm on Friday.

Tony Russell route planner

Equally promptly, Escom put the airfield into loadshedding. And so, the competition started - not with flying but with planners/judges Tony Russell and Mauritz du Plessis competing to be heard above the generator. The details of the sport were explained and tips & tricks shared.

Safety briefing led by Rikus Erasmus

The field for this first ANR event comprised eight teams of pilot and navigator. The morning was crisp and clear, perfect for flying. The pilot for the local skydiving club joined the safety briefing conducted by Rikus Erasmus, Safety Officer at both Stellenbosch and Robertson. Papers were handed out and preparations started.

Francois du Plessis and Bernard Leicher prepping….

as does Brent Colley and Koos Liebenberg….

and Alwyn and Amanda Visser.

The course for an ANR event comprises a narrow corridor, with the requirement being for the aircraft to remain within that corridor at all times. The start and finish points are timed, but all other turn points are not measured. It does pay to stay "on time" of course as you can only do so much adjustment on the final leg.

The entrants from Morningstar and Stellenbosch had each attended at least one previous ANR and had a better idea of what they were in for. The Robertson teams were brimming with local knowledge which as many will know can be a double-edged sword.

The author, Pamela Russell and Richard Knipe prepping. They finished 4th overall.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to step in to navigate, as the field was one person short. Pilot and navigator work closely together in ANR and each receive a map. Traditionally, as well as measuring the legs, looking at headings and marking up useful information, the team members will brief one another on what they will be looking for on each leg. For me this was highly entertaining, and was mostly along the lines of whose farm we would be passing or which homestead, or what memories were associated with each location - my favourite: "there's a sandbank there where we used to land".

That particular sandbank was also shown to me as we navigated that leg while also frantically trying to slow down to be on time at the finish. It's nice to be that comfortably ahead of the aircraft in competition conditions. The secret seems to be to take the preparations very seriously indeed, but to plan for the flying to be fun.

With the flying club aircraft being used three times, the field was a bit spread out. The ability to follow events on the screen in the hangar kept those pilots who were on the ground occupied and entertained. There was also a braai lit, and boerie rolls provided.

Alwyn and Amanda landing in their Cessna C206

Rikus Erasmus and Michael Meiring landing in the Bosbok

Francois du Plessis and Bernard Leicher in the Jabiru.

The results for the navigation element of the competition had Rikus Erasmus and Michael Meiring in 3rd place with 327 penalty points. The Bosbok might not be the most ideal aircraft for this type of an event, but they made good use of their past experience. Second place went to Alwyn and Amanda Visser of Robertson who put local knowledge and discipline to good use, scoring 231 penalties. Richard Knipe and Pamela Russell just edged their way into first, combining Richard's familiarity with the area and his calm demeanour and Pam's past competition experience for a total of 213 points.

ANR also comprises a landing component. It is weighted differently to normal landing events to balance it with the navigation, as the aim is to test all-round flying ability. The intention is that since a perfect landing and a perfect navigation can both score zero, the maximum penalties that can be accumulated on each element should also be similar.

Brent Colley and Koos Liebenberg came third in the landings, holding both the on-field AMO and Flying School flags high with 210 points. Second were Alwyn and Amanda Visser with 150 points. Winners were Francois du Plessis and Bernard Leicher with 90 points.

This brings us to the overall scores, and to the winners of the prizes generously donated by Viljoensdrift.

In third place with a combined total of 951 points were Francois du Plessis and Bernard Leicher in their Jabiru ZU-IAD.

In second place with a combined score of 855 points were Brent Colley and Koos Liebenberg in the flying school's C152 ZS-PLU.

And the overall winners were Alwyn and Amanda Visser in their C206 ZS-MBO.

Well done to all the competitors and a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the event's success with planning, organizing, providing of facilities, catering and donation of prizes. We were blessed with perfect weather and enjoyed a very successful event. Here's to many more!

Events 2022

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