April 1984

1984 National Air Navigation Rally

Vanderbijlpark – 14 April 1984

Article in S A Aeronews – May 1984

On Saturday, the 14th April, 40 aircraft took off on a bright and sunny autumn morning to compete in this year’s Placo National Precision Navigation Rally. And again this event proved to be one of the highlights of the power flying calendar. Run with the same precision required from the pilots, the day went off like clockwork, and the general consensus from the competitors was that the organisational standard was again high. Down from the 48 entrants last year, event director, Tony Pennel, also power flying committee member of the Acro Club, prescribes this to the fact that this year’s rally was held right in the middle of the Transvaal school holidays.

ZS-JTC - Eventual Winners

The eventual winners caught approaching one of
the controls. (Not the regulation 300 feet, but making
sure they are being seen.)

As with last year, Vanderbijlpark Municipal airfield was the venue, and the local flying club provided the same high standard of service and catering. Because the event was so close to our printing deadline, we had no time to get our photographs together, but will feature a photo essay in next month’s issue.

The rally was flown over two legs, one in the morning (starting at 9:30am) and one in the afternoon (1:30pm). Both legs are time over distance tasks and for the first leg in the morning pilots were given flight plans that included true headings, co-ordinates and ground speeds from which times are calculated. This means that pilots and navigators have to keep on track, on time, all the time. Checkpoints, both secret and manned are dotted along the route where time and track are checked. The end of both legs is overhead the Holiday. Inn, and then pilots go on to finish for the spot landing section of the rally. The morning requires a power on landing and in the afternoon a power off glide approach. The landings had to be done over a 2m high barrier located 50 metres before the zero line. Dennis Jankelow in a TC Bonanza can tell you all about the banner, as he wanted to take it home with him as a trophy. This was an area of the rally that gave most pilots a lot of trouble, and 16 of the competitors in the power on section scored a maximum 100 point penalty. Only two managed a zero. The common problem was that the approach glide slope and initial circuit altitude were too low, and they had to apply power on very late finals, giving them too much speed and inertia with no attitude. Flaps were useless and most aircraft should have paid up to 8 landing fees. Mooney ZS-FHM gave a particularly hairy display on both landings.

The afternoon leg gave pilots a lot to worry about, and was divided into three tasks. One was a group of eight circles in which a photographic reference point had to be identified, one of which didn’t exist inside the circle, (just to make matters more interesting). Secondly, a series of trig beacons on route had to be identified, with only the total distance supplied. Some beacons were but mere miles apart. The third task was to fly a curved track that was drawn on the last section of the map and again at a given constant ground speed, with the last checkpoint over the hotel. The afternoon proved to very demanding and took its toll on the competitors, who missed beacons, couldn’t identify features from photos, and found the curved track more difficult than it looked.

After a ding dong battle between the top ten competitors all day, last year’s winners Gavin Beck (navigator) and Chris Kyle (pilot) in a Cessna 172 ZS-JTC again showed their consistent skill and took the navigational section honours of the rally. This year the overall results were a lot closer than last year, and showed a vast improvement in the general standard. The spot landing section was won by Bob Olthoff in a Piper Cherokee ZS-ESV with a 35 metre total error, including a zero in the morning. (33 entrants scoring the 100 point maximum penalty in the afternoon landing.)

The evening’s festivities at the Riverside Holiday Inn again featured a great meal and cabaret with Brian Mulder. After the prizegiving and some revelry the tired, but satisfied competitors turned in after another very enjoyable event.

Our thanks to Acro Club of S A for organising a super event, to Placo (Pty) Ltd for their sponsorship of a route recce aircraft and marshalling aircraft and enthusiastic control marshalls on the day, and also the engineers and mobile workshops and prize fund contributions.

Results Navigation Rally

  • 1. ZS-ITC – C Kyle/G Beck – Cessna 172 – 175 points
  • 2. ZS-ESV – B Olthoff/S Levin – Piper Cherokee – 180 points
  • 3. ZS-KXR – I Boyd/G MacKenzie – Cessna 210 – 186 points
  • 4. ZS-IUY – M Spence/A Down – Cessna 182 – 215 points
  • 5. ZS-JMW – P Wotherspoon/F Moolman – Cessna 177 – 224 points
  • 6. ZS-IFB – D Tarboton/V Kaiser – Cessna 182 – 232 points
  • 7. ZS-IFT – M Nathan/J Stratford – Cessna 172 – 236 points
  • 8. ZS-KSI – K Grinaker/B Eager – Cessna 210 – 240 points
  • 9. ZS-IIY – G Sweidan/J Allison – Cessna 150 – 253 points
  • 10. ZS-FUD – N Jacob/S Louw – Cessna 172 – 261 points

Landing Competition

  • 1. ZS-ESV – B Olthoff – Piper Cherokee – 35 metres
  • 2. ZS-KCZ – G Vos/E Bekker – Cessna 172 – 51 metres
  • 3. ZS-FWP – D Hague/J Snow – Piper Cherokee – 67 metres

1st Novice

  • ZS-IFT – M Nathan/J Stratford – Cessna 172 – 236 points

Directors Award

  • Only aircraft with zero photograph task errors. ZS-AGM I Anderson/G Hugo Maule

Team Prizes

  • 1. Aero Club of South Africa
  • 2. Wits Flying Club
  • 3. Pietermaritzburg Flying Club