The Annual Taildraggers Fly-In and Speed Rally 2023
By Jaco Pitout
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There is something about countryside fly-in's that make you want to go back time and again, this is one of those fly ins. I took to the N1 out of Pretoria early on Saturday morning for the hour and a bit long drive to the home of the Bela-Bela Falcons flying club - the hosts of this fantastic event.
I arrived well before sunrise to find a sleepy airfield with fires already lit (or perhaps still lit from the festivities the previous evening). It was cold and I immediately needed to boost my caffeine level which was with the kind assistance of the on-site barista - R40 for a tall cappuccino! What a great price! I almost bought two.
The airfield was frozen. Literally frozen. All of the airplanes were covered in a thick layer of frost, as was the grass, that crunched under your feet as you walked. At this moment, I had nothing but respect for the folks that overnighted at the airfield in tents. The sun slowly started to peek over the horizon, and I captured these freezing moments.
I also encountered some of the club members already hard at work on the airfield to ensure everything is 100% ready for the arriving pilots and spectators.
HG de Wet, Jaydee Jansen, Steven Grobler
Coffee safely on board, I took up position next to runway 03 to capture some of the arriving aircraft.
It is always great to see Trikes arriving at fly in's, trikes have a soft spot in my heart due to it being my first exposure to general aviation. Jean-Jacques Cronje brought his Quasar to the fly in all the way from Polokwane, which we believe is the only one of its kind in the country.
With the arrival of all the Speed Rally participants complete, it was time to brief the participants on the proceedings of the day.
David le Roux - PilotInsure and Heinrich Slabber - Holborn Assets
With the briefing complete the participants all went to their aircraft to prepare and wait for the "papers" time, this is the time when they officially receive the maps and photographs for the rally.
During this time, I took a walk around the grounds and found the following interesting people and aircraft.
From L to R Jana van Zyl, Franz Smit, Vicky Karropolous, Marelise Scheepers, Richard Nicholson
The participants of the Speed Rally were chomping at the bit to get airborne, David le Roux and his team set them off!
David Le Roux, Iaan Myburgh and their team
With the Speed Rally off and running it was time to take another walk around the parking area and where I captured the following images.
Motorbike meets Airbike
It seemed that the Speed Rally had just started when the competitors arrived back, and Iaan had the task of scoring the various teams' performances.
The competitors all had "war" stories to share about finding the various waypoints, flying too high and flying too far. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the various team while the scores were tabulated.
Prizes and Trophies on offer
Esteemed Host Club Trophy - Awarded to the Bela Bela Falcons Flying Club - Richard Nicholson and David le Roux
First Taildragger Home - ZU-IJC Father & Son Team Kobus and Jaco van Zyl (9th Overall)
First Flight School Aircraft Home - Legendsky Represented by Piet Meyer and Adrienne Visser. Pictured here with Legedsky CEO - Dave Naude.
Fastest Route Flown - ZS-CNY - Phil Wakely and Martin Meyer.
-Most Accurate Route Flown - ZU-IHK - Father and Son Team - Hendrik and Jandre Loots
The Top Three Finishers:
1st ZU-IHK - Hendrik & Jandre Loots
2nd ZS-FVV - Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman
3rd ZS-CNY - Phil Wakely & Martin Meyer
After the prize giving, I had to return to Pretoria. I believe that the festivities continued throughout the afternoon and into the night! Next year, I am flying in and staying over! Well done to the Bela-Bela Falcons flying club for a fantastic fly-in and a wonderfully organised event!