September 1995

Held in Brits – 22- 24 September 1995

By Mary de Klerk and Adrian Pilling

By Thursday 21 September, the Brits skies were full of aircraft practicing Navex’s and landings. Everyone was hyped up and ready to go. That night a dinner was arranged at a restaurant in Brits called Saddles. About 40 people took over the restaurant for the evening.

Friday 22nd September – the official practice day. Adrian Pilling had arranged the route with photos. All were given official flight planning and takeoff times, and these were adhered to with military precision. Although there were no marshalls or ground markers, there were no undue hitches and everyone seemed happy with their individual performances.

That afternoon the SAPFA AGM was held at the airfield and chaired very precisely by Geoff Henschel. At 19h30, the mayor of Brits Mr. Kobus de Jager, hosted the official opening ceremony and welcome party at the Mayoral Chambers in Brits. This was attended by most of the councilors and their wives. The Brits Flying Club is most fortunate in having the support of the Town Council in providing assistance in whatever way they can.

Saturday 23rd September 1995 – the big day. The ball started rolling at 0800 with the first man in the flight planning room. Thereafter everyone entered at three minute intervals, and besides one minor glitch in the computer system, everything ran on oiled wheels. With professionals Uli Gerth, Andre Fourie and Ros Gibson at the helm, precious little could go wrong. Hats off to Johan Schraader for setting routes which were very fair and without hidden complications. The biggest problem was eleven year old maps and precious little on the ground fitted the paper. Thank goodness nobody moved the mountains and rivers because the roads and mines have developed so dramatically in some areas. We could have been flying on a Grahamstown map. It’s at times like this that a little local knowledge goes a long way. The first day’s navigation exercise was a real challenge, as the route flown took one over the beautiful Hartebeespoort Dam and along the ridge of the Magaliesburg mountains. It was a constant battle to stop looking at the natural beauty of the surroundings and concentrate on the task at hand, and you had to concentrate as there were 8 turning point markers to be found along with 4 secret checkpoints, 8 photographs and numerous ground markers.

The marshalls were all well briefed, and the numerous secrets and ground markers were accurately displayed. Only one timed secret which had no identifiable marker, tended to catch a lot of unsuspecting “speedsters”. At the end of the first day a braai was arranged at the club house, and a lot of weary pilots tended to relax and let their hair down, and one or two cases, their pants … (no names – no pack drill!!!)

The second official rally day dawned and all arrived on time. Again a hitch-free and relatively uneventful day, except for Basil Killian, a “new boy from Durbs” who somehow tugged too hard on his Carb heat and had to fly the entire rally with the dead cable handing from his hands – and short of a few revs. He knew he was late when his team mate, Richard O’Neil passed him over the dam, but decided to tag Richard and limp home.

All the landings were video’d so any disputes or protests could be very quickly ironed out. Nols van Emmenis, the manager of the club, bent over backwards to accommodate all the pilots and their families, and even when the newly installed fuel pumps let him down, he failed to get flustered. His wife, and her entourage of ladies, did a sterling job in the kitchen, feeding and watering the crews from early morning till late in the evening

At the end of the second and final day a prize-giving banquet was held in the bushveld lapa at Dikhololo. This function was attended by 150 guests, comprising of pilots, marshalls, organisers, supporters, families and friends. Andre Fourie was master of ceremonies and prizes were presented by the deputy Mayor of Brits, Mr. Matlala and the deputy Mayoress Miss Buys.

Prizes were awarded in the following categories:

  • First Place Overall – Adrian Pilling
  • Second Place Overall – Hans Schwebel
  • Third Place Overall – James Craven
  • Fourth Place Overall – Geoff Henschell
  • Fifth Place Overall – Johan Dorfling
  • Best Private Pilot – Hans Schwebel
  • Best Navigator (Timing) – Geoff Henschel
  • Best Navigator (Observation) – Daroish Kraidy
  • First Place Landings – James Craven
  • Best Club – Brits Flying Club
  • Best Province – North Gauteng

The big moment that everyone was waiting for had arrived, the selection of the Springbok team to represent South Africa at the 1996 World Precision Flying Championships in Fort Worth Texas USA are: Adrian Pilling, James Craven, Geoff Henschel (Captain), Johan Dorfling, Hans Schwebel, Deon van Eeden (Manager), Johan Swart (International Judge).

A reserve team was also chosen: Nellis Nel, Barry de Groot and Daroish Kraidy

This story would not be complete without a huge thanks going to MLS Bank that made it all possible. Your continuing support of power flying is greatly appreciated