December 2000


Port Elizabeth 2000

By Adrian Pilling

December is always a difficult time of the year, with all those last minute things to do. This December was more important than most. Not only were the National Rally Championships being flown, but the competition had been upgraded to international status with four Russian teams competing and one combined South African / Australian team. If this wasn’t pressure enough, the format had been changed to three routes and the results of this counted for the selection of the national team to the World Air Games in Spain in June 2001. A humdinger of a competition was about to begin.

ACSA (Airports Company of South Africa) were very kind to sponsor the event which was held at Port Elizabeth Airport. The organising club was Algoa Flying Club and boy do they know how to organise an event.

Most of the 21 crews arrived between the 10th and 12th of December and immediately found that the wind conditions were very challenging indeed. It really is difficult to do spot landings in 38kt winds and to navigate accurately to the second in these conditions. There were many sick navigators during the practice sessions!!!

Dave Perelson (Competition Director) and his team were marvellous and had practice routes for us to fly on. This allowed the crews to familiarise themselves with the area and get to grips with away starts at Progress and Uitenhage airfields.

After a comprehensive briefing (where the crews were advised that they would be doing four landings during the competition, the best of three counting) and welcoming party on Thursday night the crews retired for the evening to prepare themselves for the coming tournament. Remember not only were national honours at stake but also the selection for the national team. A restless night was had by all.

Friday – Competition Day 1

The crews were all up early and took off in order to position themselves at Progress airfield. Remember this landing counted and there were some fun landings in the strong wind. Once all was set up the crews took off at their correct time slots and the competition was on.

The route was tricky but fair with two sets of eight photographs having to be identified. We flew over mountains and down some valleys that I have never seen before, beautiful but tricky country. The turning points were sometimes difficult to find but all in all a great and fair route.

The returning landing counted, and most of the tired crews did well on the landing.

After a brief respite it was back to PE where the results of the day were announced at Algoa Flying Club. The results were: Open Class: 1st (N.Hopkins & D. De Klerk) 2nd (A.Pilling & R.Moolman) 3rd (H.Schwebel & R.Stirk) 4th (B.De Groot & M.De Klerk) 5th (S.Svetlossanova & D.Soukharev) with the combined team from Australia of (J.Dorfling & G.Henschell) coming a creditable 7th. In the Sportsman’s Class the results were: 1st (C.Hardman & F. Du Toit) 2nd (T. McKerchar & T.Booysen) 3rd (A.Gibb & P.Booth-Jones) 4TH (O. Agadaznov & S. Malofeev) 5th (E.Pearce & B.Johnson). The games were on, and after a trip to the Ron Belling Art Gallery (which was opposite the SA vs. Sri Lanka cricket match, which some of us watched), the crews retired for the night in order to prepare for the next day.

Saturday – Competition Day 2

The crews departed P.E. airfield and did a low fly past over the new beach front development, and then over to Progress for the start. This fly past was to show the locals our appreciation for them hosting the event in their city. It was appreciated by all and reported in the press – great fun.

The route flown today was tough but fair. The away start catching out some pilots. Again there were two sets of photos to be found and most pilots found these photos more difficult than yesterday. Some low cloud along the route affected some of the pilots. Again the returning landing was marked, and after a brief respite the crews flew back to P.E. for the results. They were: Open Class 1st (N.Hopkins & D. De Klerk) 2nd (A.Pilling & R.Moolman) 3rd (D.Churley & D.Macintyre) 4th (H.Schwebel & R.Stirk) 5th (S.Svetlossanova & D.Soukharev). In the Sportsmans Class the results were: 1st (J.Ferreira & A.Hitge) 2nd (C.Hardman & F. Du Toit) 3rd (T. McKerchar & T.Booysen) 4th (A.Patterson & Wet) 5th (A.Gibb & P.Booth-Jones).

Dale de Klerk and Nigel Hopkins
2000 South African Champions Dale de Klerk and Nigel Hopkins

Sunday – Rest Day

Much of the day was spent relaxing and exploring the new casino complex called “The Boardwalk”. It really is most spectacular. P.E. has certainly grown as a city and it boasts one of the best beachfronts in the country.

Monday – Competition Day 3

The day started an hour early with the crews positioning themselves for a start at Uitenhage, the landing there counting for points.

After a brief pause the competition got underway. This time there were photos and ground markers to find. The route was short sharp, intense and high pressure. When the crews returned (the landing counting again) most had had a tough time.

Well now it was back to P.E. and into the club to await the provisional results for the day. When they came the results were: Open Class: 1st (N.Hopkins & D. De Klerk) 2nd (B.De Groot & M.De Klerk) 3rd (D.Churley & D.Macintyre) 4th (A.Pilling & R.Moolman) 5th (S.Svetlossanova & D.Soukharev). The Sportsmans Class results were: 1st (C.Hardman & F. Du Toit) 2nd (T. McKerchar & T.Booysen) 3rd ( J.Ferreira & A.Hitge) 4th (A.Gibb & P.Booth-Jones) 5th ( B.Williams & R.Burgher).

All that remained now was for the gala evening and the announcement of the team.

The Final Night

The function was a gala evening held in a private room at the Boardwalk Casino. Wow what a marvelous place indeed. The entertainment was superb with live music and a comedian to lift our spirits. It was all good fun indeed. After the meal it came down to the speeches where ACSA reaffirmed their commitment to the sport for the next three years, thank you indeed.

Then it was the time for the moment we had all been waiting for –

Final Top 5 Positions:

Francois du Toit and Claude Hardman
Sportsmans Class winners -Francois du Toit and Claude Hardman

Open Class

  • 1st Place N. Hopkins & D. de Klerk
  • 2nd Place A.Pilling & Renier Moolman
  • 3rd Place Groot & Mary de Klerk
  • 4th Place H. Schwebel & Ron Stirk
  • 5th Place S. Svetlossanova & D. Soukharev

Landing Prize:

  • N. Hopkins & D. de Klerk

Best Crew:

  • N. Hopkins & D. de Klerk

Sportsmans Class:

  • 1st Place C.Hardman & F. Du Toit
  • 2nd Place J.Ferreira & G Hitge
  • 3rd Place T. McKerchar & T.Booysen
  • 4th Place A.Gibb & P.Booth-Jones
  • 5th Place B.Williams & R.Burgher

Landing Prize:

  • T. McKerchar & T.Booysen

Congratulations to you all. You all deserve it. A special congratulations to Hopkins and De Klerk who achieved the distinction of being the first team ever to finish a Nationals with under 100 penalty points – this is world class – well done. To those that did not make the top five – Well there is always next year.

World Air Games Team Announced

Shortly after the final positions were announced, the team to the 2nd World Air Games in Spain (this is the Olympics of the air) for 2001 was announced.

Renier Moolman, Deon van den Berg, Don MacIntyre, Hans Schwebel Dick Churley, Mary de Klerk, Dale de Klerk, Nigel Hopkins and Russell Phillips, Ron Stirk, Barry de Groot, Adrian Pilling, Jan Hanekom and Rob van der Merwe.
Rear L to R: Renier Moolman, Deon van den Berg, Don MacIntyre, Hans Schwebel Dick Churley, Mary de Klerk, Dale de Klerk, Nigel Hopkins and Russell Phillips. Front: Ron Stirk, Barry de Groot, Adrian Pilling, Jan Hanekom and Rob van der Merwe.

The team announced is:

  • N. Hopkins & D. de Klerk
  • A.Pilling & Renier Moolman
  • Groot & Mary de Klerk
  • H. Schwebel & Ron Stirk
  • D.Churley & D.Macintyre
  • R.Phillips & R vd Merwe (Reserve)

After a brief meeting it was decided that the team manager would be Deon van den Berg and the team captain Adrian Pilling. Well done on these appointments and to the team as a whole. I know that this team is the strongest yet and will do very well. This is a great honour to be chosen to be at the aviation equivalent of the Olympics and it bodes well for South Africa’s own world event in 2003.

A great competition was had by all. It goes without say that the competition could not be run without the help of lots of people especially but not only the following: ACSA for the venue and the sponsorship, Algoa Flying Club for their time and incredible input, Glynis for taking all our grief and still smiling, the English family for the use of Progress airfield, the Uitenhage Flying Club, Imperial Bank for past sponsorship, various local sponsors, the marshalls, the jury and of course the competition director Mr Dave Perelson.

A special thank you to the Russian team and to Geoff Henschel who came from Australia to partake.

Well done to you all.