The annual Aero Club of SA awards dinner 2023 a lavish affair
By Willie Bodenstein
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Traditionally the Aero Club's Dinner is the last of the major aviation events of the year and this year it was, with one exception again so. The exception is the Soaring Society's Open SA Championships scheduled from the 16 to 22 December at Welkom Airfield.
Pilots Post was present at the dinner and will also be present at the Nationals just as we have been present at all of the year's major events as well as almost all of the minor once.
MC David Le Roux
Rob Jonkers Chairman of the Aero Club
This year held in Menno Parson's hangar at Rand Airport it was as always, a lavish black-tie affair. The hall was packed and there were no vacant tables as VIP's and invited guest as well as members representing most of the club's sub sections gathered to pay homage to those that during the year has exceled in general aviation.
A number of world champion ships happened throughout the year, most of which with competitor's from Sout Africa.
The South African Olympics Committee - SASCOC - only acknowledges participating competitors and their team managers by awarding them Protea colours. Yet many sports require the support of others for competitions to take place. Aero Club acknowledges these whose dedication, commitment and sacrifice is equal to that of the competitors, and as necessary; by awarding their efforts with Special Acknowledgement Certificates.
World Rally Flying Championships held at Macon, France from the 25th of July to the 4th of August 2023 Competitors from our shores were represented by competitors Leon Bouttell, Alewyn Burger, Apie Kotzee, Frederik Kotzee, Tarryn Myburgh, Iaan Myburgh, Antony Russell, Pamela Russell and Steve van der Merwe. Special Acknowledgments Certificates were also presented to Hans Schwebel, Rob Jonkers, Martin Meyer and Barbara Frieboese for their support in acting as Judges & Jury members at the World Rally Flying.
Wayne and Jonathan Wilcox represented SA at the FAI World Championships for Pylon Racing Model Aircraft F3D/F3E held at Drachthen, Netherlands from 29 July to 5 August 2023.
The FAI F3K World Championships for model gliders were held at Brasov, Romania and Cayden and Gavin Davies, Nicole, Craig and Michelle Goodrum, Rhys and Jannie Smit, Alan Smith and Jethro van der Molen competed.
Roston Dugmore, Jonathan Heath, Andre Stockwell, Joshua Twomey and Team Manager Neil Twomey represented SA at the 2023 FAI F3A World Championship for Aerobatic Model Aircraft held at Warwick, Australia from the 19th to the 26th of August 2023
Competitors at FAI World Drone Racing Championships 2023 held at Namwon, South Korea from the 6th to the 9th of October 2023 were Chris Proenca, Logan Smith, Tristan Twine, Amber Welman, Jadon Churchman and Team Manager Lance Churchman.
South Africa was placed 5th at the World Aerobatic Championship 2023 held at Las Vegas, USA from the 24th of October to the 3rd of November 2023. Senior Protea Colours were awarded to Elton Bondi, Barrie Eeles and son Tristan Eeles. They could not be present and the awards were accepted on their behalf by SAC members.
A Special Acknowledgement was presented to Nigel Hopkins and Barrie Eeles, Nigel for being ranked 2nd in the 3rd Sky Grand Prix with an overall score of 80.391 and Barrie for being ranked 3rd in the 3rd Sky Grand Prix with an overall score of 79.668
Aero Club Colours were presented to Quintin Kruger and Johan Whiteman the overall winners of the SAPFA Speed Rally 2023. They were not present. Leon Bouttell then handed over the SAPFA Rally certificates and Aero Club Colours to Apie and son Frederick Kotzee the winners of the 2023 PTAR.
Alec Groenewald was then called to the stage to hand over to hand SAMAA certificates to Kobus Els from Nelspruit the current chairman of the Lowveld Model Aircraft Club, the largest and most active club in the Mpumalanga province. Kobus organised a comprehensive static display as part of airshows and events, and as part of the SAMAA development team introduce model flying to the public to gain their interest in the sport as well as demonstrate the low cost of entry.
He was a major driving force behind the management team for SAMAA Combined Nationals 2023, and joined the Fun Fly Masters in support, and has promoted proficiencies in the club. Serving as Chairman of Lowveld Model Aircraft Club (LOMAC), improved the flying facilities in 2023, motivates the members to participate in all events taking place. Igniting the Flame of Aviation!
As well as to Jonathan Heath SAMAA Junior Member of the Year. Jonathan, now aged 18, joined Model Aerobatics Association of South Africa (MAASA) and started competing in the Sportsman class in September 2021. He won every Monthly and League competition in Sportsman class and became the Sportsman Class Champion at the 2022 National Championships.
He started competing in the Masters class, with the aim of qualifying for a placing in the Team to compete at the 2023 World Championships in Warwick, Queensland, Australia. Since the 2022 Nationals, he has won every competition in the Masters class and came 2nd in the Masters Class at the 2023 National championships, securing a place in the team as the Junior member to represent SA at the 2023 F3A World Championships. Jonathan flew so well that he placed 3rd in the Junior Category and ranked 43rd overall at the World Championships.
Jonathan was instrumental in organizing an outing for the Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society to the Pretoria Radio Flyers Club in order to showcase Aero Modelling to them. He also assists junior and senior members at the club, teaching them the finer skills that he has mastered. He has been a keen judge at Regional and National competitions. Jonathan sets an example for Junior and Senior members alike.
And to Phillip Lewis SAMAA Youth Developer of the Year. Phillip & his team's Involvement in this year's 2023 EAA Convention event that lead to SAMAA reaching over 100 school children by introducing them to building and flying of model kits. Phillip arranged sponsorships, kits and was supported by Steve Joubert & Tonie Schoeman. Further to this, Phillip took charge and took it upon himself to make all relevant arrangements for a successful static and air display at this year's Nelspruit Airshow. Phillip was part of the 2023 Nationals organising team which lead to junior qualifying for the world champs where some would end up achieving podium places.
And too the Model Gliding Association the SAMAA Special Interest Group of the year represented by Brett Lewis and Jan Sime. This Special Interest Group (SIG) of the SAMAA has consistently had high levels of activity, with excellent results at world championship events.
The MGA regularly holds regional events, in several soaring classes. It joined the SAMAA Combined Nationals 2023 in Middelburg for the first time, where Senior and Junior teams were selected to compete in the FAI F3K RC Soaring World Championships this year.
The MGA has shown significant growth, with many young enthusiasts taking up model gliding in the last year. The MGA maintains a very positive attitude, and the F3K (Hand-launched Glider) team gained a podium result at the 2023 World Championships in Brasov, Romania.
The Sport Aerobatic Club nominated Roger Deare for his outstanding contribution to sport aviation. He orchestrated the highly successful third edition of the FAI Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics championship, held at Virginia airport, Durban on June 16, 2023. Roger's remarkable efforts in organizing all logistics for this internationally acclaimed event, featuring some of the world's finest aerobatic pilots, culminated in a sold-out show. This event marked a historic return to the iconic Virginia airport after nearly a decade, presenting unique challenges, which Roger and his team expertly overcame. Roger Deare's evident passion for sport aviation makes him a deserving recipient of this award. The award was accepted on behalf of Roger by Cliff Lotter.
Tommie is an exemplary ambassador of SAGPA, tirelessly orchestrating events and securing sponsorships to unite Gyro pilots from across the nation for several years. His unwavering dedication to fostering unity and support in the recreational sport sets him apart. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Tommie for his invaluable contribution and the substantial marketing impact he brings to the landscape of Gyroplane recreational flying in South Africa today.
The ASSA board proudly nominated Marelise for her extraordinary dedication and service that exceeded her regular duties. Her pivotal contribution to Air Traffic Control during Special Air events and adept management of ATNS requirements in challenging conditions, despite limited resources, has been exceptional and invaluable.
Nominated for their contribution in their support of advocacy in recreational aviation were John Boucher, Stefan Coetzee, Yolande Combrinck, Walter Doubell, Rowena Kraidy, Louis Stanford and Kevin Storie.
There are many forums in which regulatory proposals related to Recreational Aviation are tabled; workgroups, workshops, subcommittees up to the approval authority of CARCom, where the regulatory authority and industry make proposed changes or wish to add new regulatory elements. This of course comes with many differing opinions, which requires significant effort from our industry participants to ensure that there is no over reach and that there are reasonable expectations in these proposals, thus there is much behind the scenes debate and counter proposals made to reach an agreed outcome. It does mean that a stalwart group of our members put in the effort to ensure our joint freedom of flight is maintained where they support at these forums, without them, the potential for regulatory over reach may get lost. For this we thank them for the many 100's of hours spent either in physical or on-line meetings to achieve acceptable outcomes.
This award recognizes an individual and/or organisation for their outstanding contribution towards making aviation more accessible to persons to whom it would not ordinary be easily accessible.
Felix Gosher is the driving force behind his Childrens flight day. He has successfully put together each day for the last eight years with no end in sight. His drive and enthusiasm is phenomenal and he has successfully inspired many children and adults alike in this drive to 'FLY FEED LOVE INSPIRE". As we all know that making the required arrangements within our regulatory environment is no mean feat, given the complexities of putting together a Special Air Event with the required approvals from all the associated authorities, as well as making the arrangements for sponsorships, flight crews, safety teams, and then to secure the permissions to host the children for their flights.
Peter Hewitt experienced a pivotal moment when a skydiving accident left him with a broken back. Undeterred, Peter was determined to return to his cherished sport. Over six months, he dedicated himself to crafting a specialized suit, a testament to his ingenuity. This endeavor culminated in a triumphant comeback as the world's inaugural officially licensed paraplegic skydiver, completing an extraordinary 150 jumps. Residing in Cape Town, Peter holds a respected position within the esteemed Mossel Bay parachuting club. Peter's award was accepted on his behalf by Simon Smith Chair of the Disabled Aviation Association of SA.
Roelf Palm, a stalwart Gyroplane instructor in South Africa, recently demonstrated his unwavering dedication by revising the Gyroplane Instructors Syllabus for SAGPA. Through numerous workshops held nationwide, he engaged with SAGPA instructors and stakeholders, imparting international insights and research to refine SAGPA's instruction standards. Roelf's commitment to fostering a culture of safety among gyroplane pilots in South Africa is deeply appreciated.
The prestigious award from DJA Aviation for Airmanship went to Rudolf Erasmus demonstrated extraordinary courage during an emergency landing in Welkom. His swift thinking and composed execution averted a potentially deadly situation for all on board. The perilous incident involved a highly venomous Cape cobra that had surreptitiously boarded the aircraft from Cape Town to Nelspruit. Erasmus's heroism serves as a testament to his pilot proficiency and remarkable ability to navigate unforeseen challenges with poise and efficiency. His decisive actions saved lives and averted a catastrophe. Roedolph was not present.
Next Rikus Erasmus, Chairman of Airshow SA was called to the stage to hand over the awatds for the best Airsow in SA for 2023.
Third place went to the New Tempe Airshow. The award was accepted by Conraad Botha.
Second place went to the SAAF Museum Airshow. SAAF General Wiseman Mbambo accepted the award.
The winner was the Virginia Airshow and the award was accepted by Brendan Horan on behalf of his team.
The most meritorious achievement at an international event went to Alewyn Burger and Steve van der Merwe. In an exceptional display of skill, Alewyn Burger and Steve van der Merwe were crowned third overall for the landing at the World Rally Flying Championships held in Macon, France 2023, for which they received a Bronze medal.
Pierre van der Walt and Abrie Muller were acknowledge for the manufacture and design in the South African recreational aviation of the PCAD 700 is the brainchild of Abrie Muller, whose company Performance Composite Aircraft Designs (PCAD) is developing the aircraft, along with his partner Pierre van der Walt, the owner of Wonderboom-based Sport Plane Builders.
The aircraft was inspired by the locally built Ravin 500, which is in itself a composite development of the aluminium Piper PA-42 Comanche, now also owned and built by Performance Composite Aircraft Designs.
Built largely from composite materials, in addition to being lighter than metal, is cheaper to manufacture, results in fewer parts used and also gives a clean aerodynamic profile as rivets and other fasteners are not required. Retractable landing gear also gives this aircraft a clean profile. The PCAD 700 is powered by a turboprop power plant giving an estimated top cruising speed of 250 knots (450 km/h) at 4 600 metres (15 000 feet). A fuel capacity of 700 litres should give an estimated range of 2 200 kilometres or endurance of five hours. Ceiling is planned to be 28 000 feet (8 535 metres).
BAFSA member Martyn Evers was awarded Gold Wings for at least 10 years meritorious service to Sport Aviation in South Africa.
Martyn's interest in ballooning was first piqued in England prior to him immigrating to South Africa in the 1990's. Martyn started ballooning in 2000, gaining his Free Balloon Pilot's Licence several months later. He joined the Balloon and Airship Federation of South AFrica committee as Treasurer/ Secretary in 2003, a post he continues to hold today. Martyn is a chartered accountant, thus making him ideally suited for his role which he has served with skill and diligence for 20 years. Martyn has flown balloons in South Africa and France and remains an active pilot and eager ballooning participant. Martyn is a well deserving recipient of the Gold Wings Award.
An other Glod Wing recipient for exceptional service as treasurer of SAPFA for 10 years, including serving as treasurer for the World Rally Flying Championships held at Brits in 2022. In addition to tirelessly ensuring that the SAPFA finances are run smoothly, Mauritz du Plessis is a stalwart supporter of SAPFA who volunteers at and participates in events and provides guidance to members ensuring that they feel welcome and encouraged to participate in events.
For exceptional service as treasurer of SAPFA for 10 years, including serving as treasurer for the World Rally Flying Championships held at Brits in 2022. In addition to tirelessly ensuring that the SAPFA finances are run smoothly, Mauritz du Plessis is a stalwart supporter of SAPFA who volunteers at and participates in events and provides guidance to members ensuring that they feel welcome and encouraged to participate in events. Mauritz's award was accepted by Frank Eckhardt.
Gold Wings Award winner Cliff Lotter has served the SAC committee over a protracted period with distinction. He has managed to earn a reputation for his excellent organisational skills at aerobatic contests while sharing his passion for sport aviation and his technical expertise with fellow pilots.
The Pilot of the Year was shared by Nigel Hopkins and Mary de Klerk for their display of extraordinary skill achieved an exceptional 3rd place in the World Rally championships held in Brits, South Africa in November 2022.
In 1993, Life Time Achievement Awerdee, John Illsley established the Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society which he has shepherded ever since, ensuring that the many participants were introduced to a wide range of aviation activities and encounters. The Society activities have encouraged many of the participants to take up recreational flying as well as devoting themselves to professional aviation careers. Some examples of the Society activities are flights within the EAA Young Eagles initiative, in SAAF helicopters, transport and other airplanes, in airline flight simulators, flying club aircraft. John has ensured the Society's participants take meaningful part as volunteers at EAA events such as the EAA Annual Convention, the Sun n Fun and other fly-aways.
That brings to close another year in which South African aviators have batted well above average in the large number of aviation competition that they have attended both as individuals as well as team members.