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We aviation fanatics in SA are fortunate to have a number of what has become unique iconic home-grown events. Probably the most famous and definitely the oldest amongst them is the Presidents Trophy Air Race followed by The MISASA Africa Cup.
The MISASA Cup is if I'm not mistaken, the second oldest and can trace its origins back to when SA was excluded from international sporting events. The Cup has survived to this day and has found a permanent home at the Hotel Numbi for the last 20 plus years. The hotel boasts a grass landing strip and all other amenities.
Emergency medical services were on standby during Saturday's competition legs.
CAA inspectors were on hand to do ramp checks.
This year MISASA celebrates its 35th anniversary. The Cup originally catered for weight shift pilots but that has over the years morphed into an open event. Now a days Trikes, LSA's, Gyrocopters and others in a spirit of camaraderie flock to Numbi in September of each year.
I arrived by road on Thursday at Hazyview so as to enable me to capture Friday's arrivals. Having covered the event once before a number of years ago I knew what fun it was and since most flying takes place early morning or late afternoon, I was prepared for three rather long days.
The provisional program for the weekend was:
Friday 23rd September, Arrivals and free flying.
18.00 - Pilots briefing (Brett Hickman), Safety Briefing (Rob McFie), Nav Task Briefing (Nico Willemse) at the Wild Fig and Pool Deck.
19.00 - The Famous Numbi Braai at the Wild Fig and Pool Deck.
20.00 - Welcoming of new pilots at The Olive and Vine.
The first to arrive. were Gary and Paul who flew their Magni Gyrocopters from Springs on the Thursday. Nico Willemse was third. He arrived on Friday in his Bathawk from and Potgietersrus in Limpopo. Nico was followed by a whole gaggle of arrivals all from Limpopo.
A special mention must go to Paul van Schalkwyk who flew his Sky Ranger solo from Elandslaagte to Numbi. Paul who turned 84 on Saturday the 24Th September has recently, after year and years of flying weight shifts to fixed wings.
By lunch time there was 13 aircraft parked and securely tied down under the trees at the runway that is close to the hotel. It was time to relax, talk to old friends and make new ones while waiting for the safety briefing to be held later.
Time to relax.
Two late afternoon pics taken prior to the safety briefing.
Safety briefing and dinner at the pool deck.
Saturday 24th September
06.00- Staggered Take Off's for the Navigational Task
13.30 - Pilots Briefing for the Runway Tasks (Brett Hickman, Rob McFie and Hendrik Loots)
14.30 - Runway Tasks
19.00 - Drinks at the Olive and Vine followed by gala dinner and prizegiving. Theme is trailer trash.
Saturday is the day that the Cup really lives up to its name with the nav rally and runway tasks are always fiercely, but in good spirit, contested. The weather did clear over the field and after almost half have taken off on the Nav Rally they soon radioed that they are returning as visibility over the escarpment was at best poor.
Those returning could at least then complete the spot landing portion of the nav rally.
It was then decided to wait out the weather and by eleven it seemed better and a few were launched but soon reported that condition had not improved and all returned safely. The call was then made to postpone all flying until late afternoon and the safety briefing was held at the pool deck.
By 16.00 it was decided to start with the runway tasks which, unlike the rally, offers those at the field an opportunity to witness at first hand the skills of pilots in the tasks that includes power of landing, flour bombing and toilet roll cutting.
And so, the flying portion of another exciting Africa Cub came to an end. Mine ended with a flight in Dougie Higgs's Magni Gyrocopter as the sun was setting over an almost deserted runway. What a fitting finale to the iconic Africa Cup.
The sumptuous dinner was held in Numbi's classic dining hall where the guys and girls all dressed up as 'Trailer Trash' shook of the weekends stresses of serious flying and got into to some serious partying.
However, it wasn't all about partying, there was the serious, well sort off serious business, of the prize giving.
Brett Hickman and Rob McFee during the prize giving.
There were so many prizes and so many really deserved winners that I just not could track and hope that I have not left any one out.
Sunday 25th September, free flying/departures, 19.00 - buffet dinner at the Wild Fig.
Just flying to the Africa Cup and the Hotel Numbi makes the weekend worth it. The scenery in the Lowveld is absolutely breathtaking as these photos by Christo and Petro proves.
I spoke to a number of visitors on why the African Cup and the Hotel Numbi are such a popular event and their comments are below:
The main aim of the Africa Cup is to get young and new pilots involved in competition flying, navigation rallies as well as runway tasks. That is the most important thing about it. It's a fun weekend away, its great camaraderie between microlight pilots, gyro copter pilots, fixed wing pilots, everybody is welcome.
We really enjoy the get together, we have o lot of fun. Some take the flying seriously; others are just here for the fun aspect. We would love to carry on with this tradition for the next 30 to 40 forty years.
Rob Mcfee, Safety Officer:
This year celebrating its 35th year said that the cup is probably the oldest Microlight competition in the world. The Cup has been with Hotel Numbi from the early nineties and the two go together. The relationship is more like a family affair than just friendship.
One of the reasons why the Cup is so successful is that Rookie pilots are invited and take part in the event and sometimes even walk away winners in the challengers. They invariably come back the following year bringing friends along. It is also held at the start of the summer flying season; the weather is almost always absolutely perfect down at Numbi. The gees (vibe) at Numbi is what makes it memorable. We actually have a 'Gees Trophy' that we award yearly. Rookies are inducted and they invariably invite their buddies.
I attended my first Africa Cup when it was still held at Badplaas. It was the thirteenth Africa Cup. I then skipped for a number of years and this will be my 11th Cup.
Nico left on Friday morning from Polokwane and they were yust climbing out when the fog moved in and blanketed the field below them completely.
The fog eventually dissipated when they reached the mountains at Chunniespoort from then on, they had a perfect smooth flight.
Willie van der Merwe:
The Africa Cup is a wonderful initiative. It gives pilots the opportunity to enter and fly in a competitive environment and thus gets the change to improve their skills.
That is one of the reasons why we return year after Year.
The camaraderie is fantastic and we love the venue.
This is my sixth Africa Cup. I haven't missed a year since the first one.
Numbi is one of the better events to I've ever been too. The camaraderie and 'naughtiness' are good clean fun.
The friendly atmosphere and the hospitality at Hotel Numbi great. You land, you walk not even 100 metres to reception and the pub is metres away.
This is definitely the best one and I won't miss it for the world.
On behalf of Pilot's Post I would like to thank all at MISASA who were involved in the Africa Cup for inviting us to cover this iconic event. I remember covering the last Starters Masters at Petit years ago and that was a wonder ful event. I certainly thoroughly enjoyed my stay. It was wonderful seeing old friends again and meeting new ones. The standard of competition flying was indeed high and the camaraderie throughout the whole weekend absolutely wonderful!
Hint…. hint…. I'm certainly looking forward to an invitation to attend the 2021 event.
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