March 1988

By Johan Swart

Fog and poor visibility test the precision flying champions at Stellenbosch

This year’s precision flying championships was a historic occasion for Western Province because, for the first time, the event took place at Stellenbosch. Maybe the pilots from other provinces will now appreciate the efforts that the WP pilots have gone to over the years to attend these events “very” far from home.

From 10 to 12 March, nineteen of the top precision pilots (commercial, private, new and old) in the country met at Stellenbosch Airfield to do battle for the highest honour in the sport – namely the S.A. OPEN PRECISION FLYING CHAMPION and S.A. PRIVATE PILOT PRECISION FLYING CHAMPION for 1988. Seeded through from the 1987 Championships were: Springbok Adrian Pilling, John Campbell and Springbok Dave Camphell. The other 16 pilots were from WP, EP, OFS and Natal.

Days 1 and 2 were re%rved for Flight Planning, Navigation and Observation tests while Day 3 was used for the Spotlanding Competition. The route for Navigation test 1 took the competitors from the start at Stellenbosch Airfield to the east of Kuilsrivier, then over the built-up area of Durbanville, to the heart of the Swartland, past Malmesbury, then north of Wellington, over Paarl Mountain and back to Stellenbosch. Over the nine leg route of 96,7 nm the competitors had to find and identify nine photographs and 11 ground targets.

Navigation test 2 ran from Stellenbosch past Klapmutskop, right over the “Taalpaal” into Paarl. From there over Paarl Mountain (again) to the south of Perdeberg, then north of Wellington and on to Malmesbury and Atlantis. Back over Philadelphia, the Kraaifontein built-up area, over the Bottelary Hills to Stellenbosch. Navex 2 also had nine legs, a total of 95,8 nm long and there were eight photographs and 11 ground markers to identify. In total for the two navigation tests there were 25 manned checkpoints, of which five were secret.

Fog Delay - Stellenbosch
Competitors and marshalls waiting for the fog to lift

The start of the competition each day was delayed by three hours because of fog. Thereafter, the visibility was very poor and made navigation very difficult. The provisional results for Nav 1 were issued on the Friday afternoon, while the results for Nav 2 came out on the Saturday morning. The competitors were asked not to discuss their results with the others. Because of this, tensions ran high and nobody knew who was where till the prize-giving party on the Saturday evening.

The handling of the championships was done very professionally – from the flight-planning room through to the debriefing after each test. At each checkpoint a proper timing gate was used for accuracy. For the landing competition the runway was marked every metre with side markings for the video camera, according to international rules.

The championship briefing took place on Wednesday 9th March and was followed by a cocktail party hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Flying Club. On Thursday afternoon, all competitors were invited by Doug Eyre to visit the Flight for Hope Project. Doug and Ellaine Eyre treated the participants to a super cocktail party.

The landing competition on Saturday was a bit of a nightmare for the participants, because everyone had been practising before the competition on runway 19. On the Saturday, however, the wind had swung north-westerly, with runway 01 in use for the landing competition.

The prize-giving dinner was held at Spier Jonkershuis Restaurant – a perfect setting for an occasion like this. Guests, pilots, marshalls and friends were all seated under the oak trees enjoying good food and wine from the Stellenbosch area.

Gen Gilliland , Doug Eyre and Mike Hartley
Maj. Gen. Gilliland, Doug Eyre and Mike Hartley at the Flight for Hope Project

Maj. Gen. James Gilliland, president of Aero Club, and Mr. Mike Hartley, chairman of SAPFA, presented the prizes to the deserving winners. André Schoeman from WP managed to hold onto his lead right through the competition to take the open crown and become the 1988 S.A. Open Precision Flying Champion. In second place overall was Johan Swart from WP, taking the private pilot’s crown to become the S.A. Private Pilot Precision Flying Champion for 1988. In third position overall was John Campbell from Natal, followed by Peter Norton from WP.

These first four competitors all belong to the University of Stellenbosch Flying Club (John Camphell – country member) and as a result, the Club Trophy went to USFC. Scoring a lst, 2nd and 4th place the Provincial Shield obviously went to Western Province with Eastern Province second, followed by Free State and then Natal.

André Schoeman received the trophy for Best Navigation, while Springbok Adrian Pilling won the Landing Trophy. The gold, silver and bronze shields went respectively to André Schoeman, Johan Swart and John Campbell.

1988 Precision Flying Winners, Andre Schoeman and Johan Swart
André Schoeman – 1988 flying champion and Johan Swart – 1988 SA private pilot precision flying champion

At the prize-giving dinner the full 1988 Springbok Rally team was announced. They are: Ivanhoe Perelson and Dave Perelson; John Adams and Colin Jordaan; André Schoeman and Johan Swart; Dave Campbell and John Campbell; and Dave Mostert and Anton Mostert.

The following Precision Flying team was also announced: André Schoeman, Johan Swart, Dave Perelson, John Campbell and Colin Jordaan.

Our thanks go to Maj.Gen. Gilliland and Mike Hartley for acting as the jury, Roy Waldek for setting the route and being chief judge, John Adams and Dane Gerneke for proof-flying the route, taking the photographs and for doing all the computer work. Thank you also to Arno Neethling for the use of his computer, to Di Norton and Ellaine Eyre for preparing the cocktail parties and Ros Gibson for being a super flight-planning room examiner. Very special thanks must go to all the marshalls and helpers who did a splendid job – and, of course, the University of Stellenbosch Flying Club for the use of their facilities.

Last but not least – thank you to all the participants: we hope to see you all next year in the “VRYSTAAT”.