Grand Central Fun Rally - 8 September 2018

By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Willie Bodenstein

The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) together with the Superior Pilot Services (SPS) organised a successful Navigation Fun Rally on Saturday 8th September 2018. 

Under the Stewardship of SAPFA's Rob Jonkers who planned & plotted the course, a total of 18 entrants registered to partake in the rally, although only 13 eventually were able to take part, some of them having had to withdraw.


Rob Jonkers busy with the competitor briefing.

There were 3 crews from SPS, all commercial pilot students getting their first experience in the art of Navigation Rally flying, although traditionally in previous rallies there was a Friday night course, this was not done, thus the newbies had to learn from the older hands in the room on the day.


Sanele Mkize and Lungule Jiyana listening to the briefing.

With a mix of Newbies and Protean teams, there were three classes of competition, Fun, Advanced, Unlimited, where the Fun class were for those new to the sport, Advanced Class where a Protea team member teamed up with a Newbie and Unlimited Class with a full Protea team. There were two competition rule sets flown although both were on exactly the same route, with the Fun rules requiring photo recognition in sequence, one per leg, and Unlimited with 18 scrambled leg photos. 

Most competitors arrived by 8.00 on Saturday morning to start the plotting activity which took the best part of 2 hours with the first aircraft off at 10:45. The weather forecast initially did not look promising with early morning showers, which did not materialise, just some scattered cloud with not much wind. The wind prediction for the day however was going to be blustery later in the morning.


Edzard Verseput and Michael Crause busy plotting the course.

The route was planned to go out north, into familiar territory for the Grand Central based crews as most of the legs were in their training backyard. The start and finish points were just north of the N14 in the narrow Special Rules corridor between the Waterkloof & Lanseria airspace, and from there the route went out past the red and white radio mast, up through to Soshanguve, west over the hills adjacent to the Brits airfield, then south through granite quarrying territory, then further west with a turning point over the Silver Creek Airfield. From there across the Maglies northern ridge, then east across the Hartebeepoort Dam, then south to the finish point being a road and creek crossing just north of the Ernie Els Golf course.

There was one photo per leg that needed to be recognized, somehow for this rally not many of them were spotted by the crews in this year. After returning, the teams had to carry out a spot landing, only yielding three bingo's, as the stiff crosswind became apparent as the competitors returned.



Newbies Wian Minne & Keuler Breed busy plotting their course.

One of the SPS crews of Wian Minne and Keuler Breed did exceptionally well, having found all the turning points, but hampered with a late take-off, thus catching up on timing proved difficult, although good effort was made to catch up and timing was overall good. One team had to divert with some sickness on board, and the last teams to take-off had to contend with high westerly winds of 20 kts gusting 27kts making the downwind legs tough to keep time having to perform snake maneuvers and 20 degree of flap at minimum speed.


Newbies Wian Minne & Keuler Breed's track they flew with only one track error.

After all the scores were tallied, first in Fun class was Leon Bouttell with first time navigator Karen Purchase, in Advanced class Steven vd Merwe with father Thys flying at 130 kts in their RV6 with Pierre Dippenaar achieving a perfect timing score, and in Unlimited Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer who being the route planner was expected to return with a perfect zero, but could not find the all the photos…., memory not that good it seems.


Leon Bouttell with Mary de Klerk on their Spot landing attempt.


Shane Britz and Karen Stroud on their spot landing attempt.
This event was for sure enjoyed by all, especially for the entrants never having flown a rally before, getting an understanding of flying with more precision, especially in the slower flight regime, and having to deal with wind variation. Many thanks extended to SPS for making all the arrangements with Grand Central Management, also to Frank Eckard who assisted with the scoring allowing Rob & Martin to catch some air time to practice. 


Some of the competitors at the end of the day.