August 1985

Eastern Cape Settlers Rally

Held in Port Elizabeth – 23 August 1985

By B B Perkins

B B Perkins
B B Perkins

The Eastern Cape Round of the National Rally Championships was held in Port Elizabeth on 23 August 1985. Called the Settlers Rally this years event was hosted by the Algoa Flying Club at H.F. Verwoerd airport. A tremendous amount of work was put in by the Algoa Flying Club in organizing this event and it must have pleased them to receive a record entry of 25 aircraft. However, chief rally organizers Roy Waldek and ‘Budgie’ Burgers nearly saw their worst nightmare come true when the morning of the event arrived with seven eights low cloud and buckets of rain.

It was decided to push the starting time back by thirty minutes to see if the weather would improve. Although the starting point of the rally was still clampers, Verwoerd was manageable and the other checkpoints were either CAVOK or high cloud. It was decided to go ahead but to change the starting, point to the first turning point. With nervous excitement in the air the navigators started collecting their gen. This consisted of two topocatostrophe (topographical) maps, instructions, 8 photographs, a gift and a survival pack (more about that later).

The route covered a distance of approximately 250 nm which was. accurately drawn onto the maps supplied. About 60 nm of the route was curved and included outside and inverse track. Three of the eight photographs were along this curved section as well as three secret check points so accuracy here was as essential as ever. Actually, it is worth mentioning the photographs here. These were all pinpoint photographs and varied from a shot of a conspicuously shaped dam to a mind boggeling photograph of a gravel road T-junction that looked so similiar to a thousand others that you had to be alert, on track and eyeballs down to recognize it. Another of the photographs was of a farm house, which if you weren’t accurately on track, would be hidden behind large trees. And yes – the top teams did spot these.

Cessna Push-Pull
Push Pull – 2193 points

The Rally included sixteen check-points, seven of them at turning points, seven were secret checkpoints and one each at the start and finish. These were manned by members of the Port Elizabeth Radio Hams Society as well as members of the Grahamstown Radio Hams society. The route overflew some of the scenic areas of the Eastern Cape including Uitenhage, Port Alfred, Grahamstown, Redhouse and the Port Elizabeth coastline. All the information from the checkpoints was radio’ed through to Rally control at Verwoerd where it was plotted on a board and then transferred to an Apple mini-computer for calculation. In fact a special programme was developed for the rally where competitors received a printout of ETA’s with their instruction gen. These ETA’s were then compared to the ATA’s in order to generate the result.

Oh yes, about the survival packs. These were a neat touch instituted by Roy Waldek and consisted of a generous helping of biltong, a couple of biscuits and asprins. Since Roy was the one who designed the rally route I reckon he knew he would be giving the crews a headache, hence the asprins.

That night, at the well supported prize-giving, the Pietermaritzburg Flying club delivered a message from the Mayor of Pietermaritzburg to the Deputy Mayor of PE. They also presented the Algoa Flying Club with a splendid floating trophy that they requested be awarded to the most deserving club member on an annual basis. And then it was time for the rally results. These were read from the last place upwards by ‘Budgie’ Burgers and each scoresheet was handed over with personal words of congratulations, encouragement or just plain leg pulling.

At position number six the handing out of the prizes was taken over by the Honourable life president of the Algoa Flying Club, Captain Nick Louden-Carter. Positions one to six all received cups with second place receiving R400 as well. First place received the beautiful floating trophy, a miniatures of the cup and Rl 000 in cash. Money for these prizes were donated by club members.

Dave Perelson and Malcolm Spence
Dave Perelson (left) and Malcolm Spence with the winners trophy and their winning Cessna

Congratulations to Malcolm Spence and Dave Perelson for their outstanding display of accurate flying. Their total of 218 penalty points was less than half that of second placed D Mostert and M Hatfieid who had won the previous provincial in the OFS.

Special mention – Well, Robert Pokorney and Peter van der Velden had to do a forced landing on the Uitenhage Freeway directly after completing the rally due to fuel problems. No damage to plane or pilot was sustained. At the prize giving they were presented with two bottles of vinyl seat cleaner which were deemed necessary after their harrowing experience.

Everyone I spoke to after the rally were very impressed with the running of the event and congratulations must go to the Algoa Flying Club for the very professional manner in which the event was run. Of the first six places two were from Port Elizabeth one from Jansenville and three from Pietermartizburg so it looks like there was little benefit derived from flying over ones home territory. All in all this was a very good rally that was enjoyed by everyone.