Tempe – Bloemfontein – 18 to 20 November 1999
By Adrian Pilling
Well before you know it most of the year has passed and we are into another National Precision Flying Championship, this time in Tempe Bloemfontein. As per usual the famous Free State friendliness was evident with the locals helping us out and really making us feel at home. Most of the countryside was looking pretty dry and brown clearly in need of rain….. a real test of navigation skills for the pilots.
The contestants arrived from all over the country including Hannes, Waltraud and Robin from Austria. The numbers were a little down this year, clearly a reflection of the economy, most pilots arriving during the official practice week. The format was a little different this year with the competition spread over three days, allowing for three navigation tests as well as for the four landings. This year was particularly significant as the national team would be announced as a result of this competition and previous regionals. This really heightened the competition amongst the contestants.
During the practice week a typical Free State storm suddenly brewed up and changed the sky from a perfect blue into a perfect violent mud storm. People were hanging onto the wing tips of planes in order to keep them on the ground. Complete mayhem for about 20 minutes and then as quickly as it came, it disappeared leaving a clean freshness in the air. This brief rainfall served to change the colours of the landscape just enough to make the observation of some of the photos more difficult. And so to the competition.
The day dawned windy and dry. Willem Coetzee, the Competition Director, and his team (mostly parabats in training who had the day off due to the strong winds) set a course to the South West. This course was very cunning with turning points difficult to find if you drifted off course. The route took the pilots over a little koppie, surely nobody would be up there! Wrong – the parabats were up there with a secret timing gate and this took its toll of some of the pilots. After all the crews returned, a brief but welcome rest was followed by two of the four landings scheduled for the competition ( first the powered landing and then the glide). By the end of the evening the provisional results were; Navigation – 1st Nigel Hopkins, 2nd Hans Schwebel, 3rd Adrian Pilling, 4th Frank Eckard, 5th Jan Hanekom, 6th Barry de Groot. In the landing section – 1st Adrian Pilling, 2nd Nigel Hopkins.
This was the day that Willem threw the western route at us. It was a shorter route but one that had the crews working hard. The format was the same as the previous day with two landings (glide and barrier) following the navigation. By the end of the evening the results for the day were; Navigation – 1st Adrian Pilling, 2nd Nigel Hopkins, 3rd Frank Eckard, 4th Mary de Klerk, 5th James Craven, 6th Hans Schwebel. In the landings section – 1st Nigel Hopkins, 2nd Adrian Pilling.
This was a tough day as the scores for the previous days had been so close, this day really counted more. This was the shortest of the routes and had a really tricky short leg that created some problems for the pilots when the wind changed. By the end of the day the placing were – 1st Nigel Hopkins, 2nd Mary de Klerk, 3rd Ron Stirk, 4th Adrian Pilling, 5th Frank Eckard, 6th Jan Hanekom. The scores today were really close.
After a brief period it was rush, rush, rush to a sumptuous reception planned by Willem and Annette. A really special meal was followed by the announcement of the final placing:-
- 1st – Nigel Hopkins 225 points
- 2nd – Adrian Pilling 268 points
- 3rd – Hans Schwebel 587 points
- 4th – Ron Stirk 610 points
- 5th – Frank Eckard 647 Points
- 6th – Jan Hanekom 649 Points
- 7th – Mary de Klerk 716 Points
- 8th – Barry de Groot 917 Points
- 9th – James Craven 1081 Points
- 10th – Don Macintyre 1129 Points
- 11th – Mauritz du Plessis 1460 Points
- 12th – Dick Churley 1490 Points
- 13th – Walter Walle 1976 Points
- 14th – F. Lubbe 3477 Points
- 15th – C.Bodesteyn 3656 Points
- 16th – J.Kleynhans 4171 Points
- 1st – Nigel Hopkins
- 2nd – Adrian Pilling
- 3rd – Mary de Klerk
- 4th – Ron Stirk
- 5th – Mauritz du Plessis
- Observation Trophy – Nigel Hopkins
- Timing Trophy – Adrian Pilling
- Best Private Pilot – Hans Schwebel
- Best Club – Brits Flying Club
- Best Province – North West Province
Provincial Colours were awarded for the first time to Mauritz du Plessis. Well done
Later in the evening the National Team was announced. This team will represent the country at the 14th World Precision Flying Championships in Sweden in 2000. The team is:-
- Nigel Hopkins
- Adrian Pilling (Captain)
- Hans Schwebel
- Ron Stirk
- Barry de Groot
- Jan Hanekom (1st Reserve)
- Frank Eckard (2nd Reserve)
- Mary de Klerk (3rd Reserve)
- Deon van den Berg (Manager)
We wish the team all the best for the coming World Championships. I know we will do well. A special mention must go to Willem Coetzee – competition director, André Fourie – chief judge, Ros – computer, Annette – Social, Renier Moolman, Dave Perelson, Tempe Flying Club – facilities, the marshalls and everybody on the Tempe airfield.
A special thank you to our sponsor, IMPERIAL BANK.