Aug 2001

President’s Trophy Air Race

Tempe, Bloemfontein – 9 to 11 August 2001.

By Jan Hanekom

Aircraft Lined up at the start
Aircraft Lined up at the start
This year’s race had to be moved to this date due to the World Air Games taking place in Spain on the dates where we had the Race planned originally. Everyone thought that this will be OK and that we will have fine weather. Just to be proved wrong.

Planning went very well after an initial hiccup when the company contracted to do the advertising etc, withdrew. This left SAPFA, Bloemfontein Flying Club and Race Organizer, Johann van Gruting very little time to do all the planning in.

Pre-race day (Thursday the 9th) dawned a nice cool day with 41 aircraft and crews arriving from all over. This decline in numbers compared with last year, were mainly due to the worsening economic conditions, at least according to some of the old participants we have phoned in advance.

Oom Doep and Oom Doors getting the aircraft on their way
Oom Doep and Oom Doors getting the aircraft on their way
The Air Observer (a GPS based logging system) was for the first time officially used to test fly AC and to determine handicap speeds. This system is locally manufactured by Tilt-tech and is also internationally approved by the FAI for Rally/Precision flying at World Championship level. This was done by flying the AC under test at maximum power in a rectangular course with two legs cross-wind and one into wind and one down-wind. The unit then logs flight parameters every second of the flight. After the flight the data is then transferred to a PC and verified with respect of track and altitude holding. The result is then fed into a spreadsheet calculating the two average speeds. One for the into-wind and down-wind legs, and one for the two crosswind legs. The into-wind and down-wind average is then used for the Handicap speed. Of the twelve AC tested, not one’s speed could be proved wrong. For example, one was tested at 161.07 Kts and achieved 162.08 Kts on day two. Another was tested 109.30 Kts and achieved 108.09 Kts on day two.

3rd Place: Harry Antel and Barry de Groot
3rd Place: Harry Antel and Barry de Groot
A lot of participants felt that this will bring back the guys who are staying away from the Race due to Handicap speeds perceived to be incorrect. Three aircraft have also been monitored on the second day to check for irregularities.

“The worst weather in the 70 year history of the race” That is how World Airnews described what faced the contestants in day one of the race. The day (Friday, 10th) started with quite a strong westerly wind (up to 25kts) that blew in a lot of clouds. The route took competitors from Tempe – Reddersburg – Zastron – Barkley East – Bethulie – Tempe. At 10h00 the fastest aircraft took off with the rest following at 30 second intervals. Everything went well until Barkley East where severe turbulence was experienced and a number of competitors also could not get close to, or overhead Barkley East. Some aircraft even flew through a snow storm.

A large amount of radio chatter followed and some competitors called it a day and returned to Tempe. One even landed on a private strip to re-think strategy (or should it read to find out where they are – just joking Mauritz). The fact that all 45 landed safely back at Tempe despite the adverse conditions says a great deal about the responsibility of the crews and the safety of the race.

Twenty-seven aircraft completed the course by getting timed at all the points This left the organizers with only these aircraft still in the Race should the normal rules be applied. This was a first ever and something had to be done to keep the Race alive. The Jury had quite a long session with the Handicapping/Scoring committee and a penalty system (minutes per turn point missed) was introduced to keep everyone in the Race. Extra time penalties were added to aircraft that returned to Tempe without trying to move on to the next point, Bethulie. One of the pilots reported that this was indeed a scary flight and another aircraft lost its compass (got stuck) during the flight.

2nd Place: Errol j v Rensburg and Andre Koen
2nd Place: Errol j v Rensburg and Andre Koen
Race day 2 (Saturday the 11th) started very cold but at least with clear blue skies and a moderate wind. The route was Tempe – Smithfield – Trompsburg – Tempe – Harmony – Bultfontein – Tempe. This time the slowest aircraft started just after 10h00 with the fastest starting last.

This proved to be a very nice flying day with all but a few crews who got lost somewhat, achieving much higher speeds – very close to their Handicaps. We had the TV there to witness the finish and Capital Sounds did their usual best to excite the local crowd. At 13h02 and 19 seconds Race 16 (ZS-CHL) with pilot Chris Briers and navigator Dries Briers, blasted through the finish point at an incredible 198 Kts to become the winners of the 2001 PTAR. Race 11 (ZS-PWC) closely followed them with Errol van Rensburg and Andre Koen in second place and Race 30 (ZS-VYI) with Harry Antel and Barry de Groot in third place.

Winners of the 2001 President's Trophy Air Race - Dries and Chris Briers
Winners of the 2001 President’s Trophy Air Race – Dries and Chris Briers
As usual the price-giving banquet at the “Glas Paleis” was a grand finale to the Race with a lot of silverware changing hands. The feedback that we got from participants and sponsors alike was that under the circumstances (the weather on Friday) they thought it was an Air Race well run and enjoyed by most. Here I have to say that one crew, unhappy with the way the penalties for day one were applied, approached me after the price giving, with their problem. Although they have my sympathy I can only say – please follow the rules and your complaints will also be handled according to the rules. On behalf of SAPFA I would like to thank all our sponsors – Imperial Aviation, Coca-Cola, WCT, Ferreira Aviation, ATNS, Capital Sounds. I also would like to thank Johann van Gruting Race organizer), Bloemfontein Flying Club, the SAAF, Midwest Aviation, ATNS, the Handicapping & Scoring committee, the jury, all the marshals, Oom Doep and Oom Doors, and everyone else who helped to make this Race the success it has been. Without you it could not have been done.

To the competitors – thank you for your incredible sportsmanship and friendliness, and for spending the time and money to participate. Let us take up Marius Venter’s (Imperial Aviation) offer to give everyone who brings another entry next year, R200 back on his or her entry fees. Let us make PTAR 2002 another race to remember.

2001 President’s Trophy Air Race

Held at Tempe, Bloemfontien – 9 to 11 August 2001

Total Distance: 654.45 Nautical Miles

 

Pos Race
No
A/c Reg Aircraft HP H/Cap
Knots
Gain(-)
Loss
Speed
Knots
Pilot
Navigator
Province
Club
01 16 ZS-CHL Beech 58 285 198.00 0:02.10 195.86 Chris Briers
Dries Briers
N/Tvl
Pretoria FC
02 11 ZS-PWC Cessna C182P 230 134.10 0:04.22 132.13 Errol j van Rensburg
André Koen
N/Tvl
None
03 30 ZS-VYI Grumman Trainer 160 128.20 0:05.13 126.05 Harry Antel
Barry de Groot
K Z N
Pietermaritzburg FC
04 51 ZS-KHC Beech B55 260 191.50 0:06.21 185.75 Johan Ferreira
Jaques Griessel
Free State
None
05 24 ZS-FDZ Piper PA28-235 250 139.30 0:06.39 136.09 Christa Greyvenstein
Johan h
Tvl
None
06 3 ZS-MZW Cessna T210L 285 182.80 0:07.04 176.97 Eugene Swart
Jannie Visser
Tvl
None
07 21 ZS-DEN Beech A36 300 176.00 0:08.02 169.87 Neil Hellmann
Roland Retzlaff
Tvl
None
08 36 ZS-KHX Piper PA34-200T 200 173.60 0:08.06 167.60 Robert L Myburgh
Robert C Myburgh
Tvl
None
09 6 ZS-MZA Beech 58 300 199.70 0:08.11 191.73 Nigel Townshend
Greg Porteous
Tvl
None
10 29 ZS-LPY Cessna U206C 300 142.00 0:08.19 137.85 David Forster
Wyndham Ferreira
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
11 40 ZS-MTR Cessna C210N 285 168.00 0:08.47 161.91 Johan la Grange
Thomas van Rooyen
Cape
Bloemfontein FC
12 10 ZS-ITP Beech B55 260 191.50 0:09.39 182.89 Willem Edeling
Wim Kotze
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
13 31 ZS-MOR Cessna C210N 285 166.00 0:09.39 159.49 Chris Booysen
Jim Tucker
Cape
Algoa Flying Club
14 28 ZS-NBB Cessna C177RG 200 141.20 0:10.03 136.28 Kobus van der Colff
Walter Walle
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
15 50 ZS-LXU Beech F33A 285 171.00 0:10.42 163.38 Dirk Fourie
Koos Coetzer
F.S.
Bloemfontein FC
16 46 ZS-NXE Piper PA28RT201T 200 152.10 0:11.06 154.43 Daniel Bensch
Daniel Bensch Jnr
Tvl
J L P C
17 18 ZS-CBD Mooney M20C 180 144.50 0:12.39 138.07 Simon Sykes
Johan Bornman
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
18 32 731 Cessna C185 260 136.80 0:12.54 130.92 Charl Steijn
Gavin Jones
N/Tvl
Defence FC
19 19 ZS-FVH Piper PA28-180R 180 140.00 0:13.17 133.66 Shaun Hughes
Harry Moos
Free State
None
20 27 ZS-LBW Piper PA34-220T 220 176.00 0:13.34 165.90 Henry Conradie
Jaco vd Merwe
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
21 12 ZS-FJV Cessna C172K 160 118.50 0:13.59 115.71 Frikkie Lubbe
Niel Slabbert
Cape
Uppington FC
22 13 ZS-IYC Cessna C182P 230 139.50 0:14.13 132.79 Pieter Burger
Sias Delport
Cape
Vaalharts FC
23 9 ZU-CKE Tecnam P92-S 100 109.30 0:15.43 104.71 Ray Gleimius
Renier Moolman
Tvl
Krugersdrp FC
24 33 ZS-FGU Piper PA28-140 150 117.40 0:16.32 111.87 Francois Pieterse
Cronje Mohr
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
25 69 ZS-MED Cessna C210L 285 168.00 0:17.31 156.28 Piet Ferreira
Lucas Wiese
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
26 5 ZS-CRW Cessna C210A 260 150.10 0:19.23 139.74 JB Burger
Danie Saayman
Free State
None
27 26 ZS-NXO Cessna C172 160 118.50 0:19.36 113.82 Dana Volschenk
André Lotter
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
28 34 ZS-GUP Aeromot AMT-200S 100 116.60 0:20.45 114.64 Norman Dixie
Anton van Langelaar
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
29 8 ZS-ISW Piper PA28-R200 200 141.40 0:20.48 138.50 Trevor Cufflin
Nigel Kemper
Tvl
Krugersdrp FC
30 55 ZS-FOH Piper PA28-140 160 118.40 0:23.40 115.38 Anton Swarts
Neil Austin
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
31 22 ZS-RTB Piper PA28-R200 200 141.40 0:24.18 139.74 Ernst Grunow
Charl Lotriet
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
32 17 ZU-APF Van’s RV6 160 164.00 0:26.45 156.32 Noel Drew
Robert Fletcher
K Z N
Durban Wings Club
33 1 ZS-EHG Cessna C172 145 105.80 0:33.02 100.89 James Lidderd
Jannie Marais
Free State
Bloemfontein FC
34 44 ZU-BMZ Jabiru 80 104.70 0:33.50 99.69 Mike Cathro
Bill Anderson
Tvl
Panorama
35 41 ZS-NXN Cessna C182RG 235 156.00 0:35.11 144.41 Johan Jooste
Thys Groenewald
Cape
None
36 7 ZU-BSG SAAB SAFIR 200 136.70 0:47.28 117.31 Christo Schoeman
Theuns du Bruyn
Tvl
None
37 15 ZS-FWG Piper PA28-R200 200 141.40 0:49.38 128.18 CM du Plessis(Snr)
CM du Plessis(Jnr)
N/Tvl
Pretoria FC
38 14 ZS-LTP PiperPA32R-301T 300 168.00 0:50.51 145.65 Henk Scheepers
Johan Scheepers
N/Tvl
None

2001 President’s Trophy Air Race

Tempe – Bloemfontein 9 to 11 August 2001

Trophy Name Awarded to Race A/c Reg Pilot/Navigator
Aircraft
President’s Trophy The Competitor gaining most time on Handicap 16 ZS-CHL Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Beech 58
Air Charter Trophy The Second Pilot Home 11 ZS-PWC Errol janse van Rensburg/André Koen
Cessna C182P
Vincent Maclean Trophy The Third Pilot Home 30 ZS-VYI Harry Antel/Barry de Groot
Grumman Trainer
Natal Mercury Trophy The First Kwa Zulu Natal Pilot Home 30 ZS-VYI Harry Antel/Barry de Groot
Grumman Trainer
Hoofstad Pers Trophy The First Transvaal Pilot Home 24 ZS-FDZ Christa Greyvenstein/Johan
Piper PA28-235
Stellalander Trophy The First Cape Pilot Home 40 ZS-MTR Johan la Grange/Thomas van Rooyen
Cessna C210N
Phoenix Volkswagen Trophy The First Free State Pilot Home 51 ZS-KHC Johan Ferreira/Jacques Griessel
Beech B55
Gatsby Trophy Best Handicap Performance on First Day 16 ZS-CHL Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Beech 58
Professional Aviation Trophy Best Handicap Speed on Second Day 46 ZS-NXE Daniel Bensch/Daniel Bensch(Jnr)
Piper PA28RT201T
Wakefield Trophy The First Woman Pilot Home 24 ZS-FDZ Christa Greyvenstein/Johan
Piper PA28-235
Kassie Kasselman Trophy The First Father and Son Combination Home 36 ZS-KHX Robert L Myburgh/Robert C Myburgh
Piper PA28 200T
John Sayers Trophy The Crew of The First Turbocharged Aircraft Home 3 ZS-MZW Eugene Swart/Jannie Visser
Cessna T210L
Bloemfontein Flying Club Trophy The First Team with less than 1000 Hours 11 ZS-PWC Errol janse van Rensburg/André Koen
Cessna C182P
A T N S Trophy The Youngest Competitor 15 ZS-FWG CM du Plessis (Jnr)
Piper PA28-R200
Dolf Kruger Trophy The First Homebuilt Aircraft Home 17 ZU-APF Noel Drew/Robert Fletcher
Van’s RV6
C A A Trophy For Professionalism 69 ZS-MED Piet Ferreira/Lucas Wiese
Cessna C210L
Beechcraft Trophy The Pilot of the First Beechcraft Home 16 ZS-CHL Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Beech 58
Placo Trophy The Pilot of the First Piper Home 24 ZS-FDZ Christa Greyvenstein/Johan
Piper PA28 235
Southern Africa Mooney Trophy The First Mooney Home 18 ZS-CBD Simon Sykes/Johan Bornman
Mooney M20C
Stayers Trophy The Crew Finishing under Exceptional Circumstances 18 ZS-CBD Simon Sykes/Johan Bornman
Mooney M20C
The Crew Finishing under Exceptional Circumstances

Completed the race with no compass

Completed the race with no compass Mooney M20C
Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Natal Advertiser Trophy The Competitor covering the course in the Fastest Time 16 ZS-CHL Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Beech 58
Badian Bosch Memorial Trophy The First Port Elizabeth Pilot Home 31 ZS-MOR Chris Booysen/Jim Tucker
Cessna C210
Chris Swart Krugersdorp Trophy The First Krugersdorp Pilot Home 24 ZS-FDZ Christa Greyvenstein/Johan
Piper PA28-235
J L P C Trophy The First Johannesburg Light Plane Club Pilot Home 46 ZS-NXE Daniel Bensch/Daniel Bensch(Jnr)
Piper PA28RT201T
Carletonville Trophy The Pilot of the First Baron Home 16 ZS-CHL Chris Briers/Dries Briers
Beech 58
Preller/Germishuys Trophy Handicapping Committee Award

(Pointing out that handicap was too low)

31 ZS-MOR Chris Booysen/Jim Tucker
Cessna C210N
“Skilpad” Trophy The Last Krugersdorp Pilot Home 7 ZU-BSG Christo Schoeman/Theuns de Bruyn
SAAB Safir

Race
No
A/c Reg Pilot
Navigator
Aircraft Reason for exclusion
4 ZS-BSW Hans Marx
Tom Marx
Ryan Navion A Did not start day 2 (starter problem)
23 ZS-KOW Dirk van Reenen
Edwin Spence
Cessna C182Q Not seen Smithfield Day 2
23 ZS-BSZ Ivan Marx
Martin Marx
Ryan Navion Not seen Smithfield Day 2

 

Penalties

Race No A/c Reg Penalty Reason
1 ZS-EHG 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
4 ZS-BSW 00:06:00 Not seen at Barkley East
8 ZS-ISW 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
12 ZS-FJV 00:06:00 Not seen at Barkley East
14 ZS-LTP 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
15 ZS-FWG 00:21:00 Not seen at Zastron, Barkley East and Bethulie
17 ZU-APF 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
22 ZS-RTB 00:21:00 Not seen at Zastron, Barkley East and Bethulie
26 ZS-NXO 00:06:00 Not seen at Barkley East
34 ZS-GUP 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
41 ZS-NXN 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
44 ZS-BMZ 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
46 ZS-NXE 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie
55 ZS-FOH 00:15:00 Not seen at Barkley East and Bethulie

2001 PTAR – Picture gallery

President’s Trophy Air Race

Tempe, Bloemfontein – 9 to 11 August 2001.

A report on the 2001 air race by winning navigator Dries Bries

When I was asked to write an article about the 2001 race, my memories took me back to the moment we arrived at Tempe the day before the race. I was very proud to arrive at the race for the first time in a Baron 58 as all my previous races were flown with a Piper Cherokee 235. I must say that at that point it did not worry me at all that it was my first race as a navigator, and that in a faster aircraft. That was soon to change.

I have always marvelled at the three different stages of the race. First there is the pre-race stage where all the strategy planning, nav calculations and handicap arguing is done. There are many decisions to be made, must we polish the aircraft or not, must we stay low or climb on each leg, must we go over or around that big mountain (I do not know how the organizers of the race do it, but they always succeed in getting some big mountain right in everybody’s way) and then there is always the furious matter of the handicaps. Very rarely will you find a competitor that is satisfied with his own and all the other handicaps. It is a matter of principle to some competitors to try and negotiate a better position in the race and some will still argue about their handicap even if they know thy can probably taxi faster that the given handicap. If by some unexplainable stroke of luck they do get a very good handicap in their own eyes, they could always pick a handicap of another competitor and argue that it is too slow. All of this is really harmless and only contributes to the overall race atmosphere as long as the handicapping committees do not take any offense. (All hats off to them, I would not take their job dead or alive) As far as the polishing of the aircraft goes, I arguing with my experienced captain about the use of this exercise, backing my argument with an article I once read on the topic. Chris overruled me with a comment that even if it did no contribute anything to the speed of the Baron, it will make it look better, so out come the polish, cloths and sweat.

On the morning of the first race day, the weather did not look very race friendly and we were not sure when the race will start. We were now about to enter the second stage of the event, the race itself. As I was not the pilot of our Baron and I knew that I was flying with the best pilot I have ever known, I was very relaxed and calm in contrast with everybody around me. How hard could it anyway be to navigate in the race, and I have after all been here before. When we eventually got the signal to start and line-up taxied past our most capable ground crew and I waved at them in a manner that could only bestow a true champion like myself. The next moment my heart nearly stopped when I realized that relaxed fool that I was, I left half of my navigational stuff including my stopwatches in the car. I went from total relaxed to total panic in less than two seconds. I could see that Chris was not impressed at all and the only thing that kept him from kicking me out of the aircraft at that moment was the fact that we were already on the starting line. I was still trying to figure out how to use our wristwatches when the flag dropped on us and the Baron jumped out of the starting blocks like a true thoroughbred. As I was watching the rapidly growing tree line at the end of the runway, I was waiting for us to get airborne and get enough height to clear those trees when I heard the gear cycle and realized we were already flying. I knew we could not flying through those trees and it sure did not look like we were going to make it over them so I started to get myself in the “crash” position. I also knew that I could not afford to loose any more face with Chris after the stopwatch episode, so I bend down and pretend that I was looking for a “pencil” that I have dropped. After a couple of seconds that felt like hours, I looked up and was surprised to see that we did clear those trees and I knew then that I was going to age a lot over the next two days.

When I just about sure that we were in our heading out of Bloemfontein, I saw that the only other aircraft in front of us was definitely not going in the same direction which created immediate panic and uncertainty. The temptation to follow them was very inviting but we decided to stay on our heading when I convinced Chris that I knew exactly where we were. When we arrived at the first checkpoint just in front of them we were both very relieved. The weather was not improving and as we cleared the mountains into Barkley-East, we were flying through light snow with bad visibility and severe turbulence. We were a bit confused when we turned over the checkpoint with no marshal on the spot. (The marshals manning that checkpoint told us that evening that they were delayed driving through bad weather over the mountains and saw us turn over the checkpoint in front of them just as they arrived in Barkley-East). The next leg to Bethuli was marked with heavy turbulence and radio confusion as the aircraft behind us entered the bad weather. Both Chris and I had the scare of our lives when the emergency hatch popped open as a result of the turbulence. The brave navigator was not able to close the hatch before some sun shields and charts were sucked out. He did all of this while his head was relentlessly pounded against the roof of the aircraft and with no regard to his personal safety. In the meantime there was confusion over the radio as some pilots gave constant weather updates at their immediate positions, others wanted to stop the race and turn back but were reminded that they did not have the authority to stop the race but they could only decide for themselves when conditions were not safe. A lot of teams did make the decision to return to Tempe and I think it will always be wise to live another day and to fly again rather than to continue into a situation where you feel it is not safe anymore.

Due to rain the visibility at Bethuli was very bad but we were both relieved when the view of Tempe filled our windscreen. Long before the last aircraft were back on the ground, the third stage of the race started. That is when everybody gathered with the necessary refreshments and shares their experiences with anybody and everybody who wants to listen. All about what they did do and what they should not have done, about making the right and wrong decisions and all the private races inside the main race. To me this is what the event is all about, sharing a passion for flying with people that feel the same way about it. This time however, there were mixed feelings about the race, as a lot of teams did not complete the race. The organizers were faced with a very difficult decision but at the end of the day decided that because there were more aircraft that did complete the race, they could not disregard the first day’s race. As a competitor would normally be disqualified from the race when missing a checkpoint, it was decided not to do that but to give a time penalty for each checkpoint missed and allow all the aircraft to keep on racing on day two.

As my time keeping with the wrist watches were not as good as I hoped for, we did not know how well we have done and therefore we were overwhelmed to hear the following morning that we were leading the race. It also came, as a bit of a surprise to hear that our brother-in-law and uncle were right behind us in second place. There was just no way that we could let them beat us. Although the weather was good I was definitely not relaxed. At this time I would like to remind you that I was use to racing at a hair-raising speed of 138 knots is the Cherokee, not screaming six foot over the ground at 200 knots. There is just something that feels not right when you fly at that speed and you look upwards at the birds in the trees when you pass them. The biggest difference between day one and two, apart from the weather, was that we were passing other aircraft on every leg. That was very nice as it confirmed every time that we were still on track and that we bettered out position every time we do so. The second day’s race proceeded without any major incident although I felt more like a passenger on the legs that was flown on the deck than like a navigator. It is just impossible to navigate properly when you are flying so low and I am sure that we had a lot of luck on our side. On the final leg to the finish line at Tempe, the adrenaline was pumping and Chris was not holding anything back. More than once I thought we were overtaken by another aircraft only to discover it was our own shadow. Needless to say that at such times I was tempted to start looking for that “pencil” again. When we heard Arel van Rensburg and Andre Koen calling two minutes out of Tempe, I told Chris that we were in fact also two minutes out and because we could not see them, we knew they had to be in front of us. Just as we got Tempe in sight, we saw an aircraft turning overhead, and we both knew that we were beaten. As we watched that aircraft we saw that it was flying in the wrong direction, and only then did we realize that was not the winning aircraft but the last of the contenders turning over Tempe as the halfway checkpoint. This race was not over yet and Chris pushed the Baron even lower to squeeze out any possible gain in speed. When we dashed over the last trees and over the finish line, I looked into the spectators eyes and I will never forget the looks of surprise and disbelief. We did not know that we have won until Arel called overhead Tempe. The rest is now history and will live in our memories forever.

After reading this, I bet you must wonder whether you will see me at Tempe again next year, but I would not miss it for the world. That is to say if the organizers don’t replace me with a GPS for the next event, which would be very sad as it would take all the fun and companionship out of the race, and you might be left to read a GPS printout when we look back on this years race.

2001 PTAR – Another perspective

Aero Africa report
Main event sponsors Coca¬Cola and Imperial Aviation, along with WCT, Ferreira Aviation, ATNS and Capital Sounds again made this popular event possible. This year’s race, hosted by the Bloemfontein Flying Club, under the auspices of the Aero Club of South Africa, drew 41 competitors, a marked decline ascribed by organisers to the worsening economic conditions and increased operating costs, as well as perceived dissatisfaction with the handicapping system.

Dries and Chris Briers - 2001 PTAR Winners
Dries and Chris Briers – 2001 PTAR Winners
In order to lure back some contestants who are staying away from the race due to handicap speeds perceived to be incorrect, and determine handicaps as accurately as possible, the locally manufactured Air Observer was used. The Air Observer, a GPS based logging system, was officially used to test fly aircraft and to determine handicap speeds. This system, manufactured by Tilt-Tech, is also internationally approved by the FAI for Rally/Precision flying at World Championship level.

The aircraft were flown under test at maximum power in a rectangular course with two legs cross-wind and one into¬wind and one down-wind. The unit then logs flight parameters every second of the flight. After the flight the data is then transferred to a computer and verified with respect of track and altitude holding. The result is then fed into a spreadsheet calculating the two average speeds. One for the into-wind and down-wind legs, and one for the two crosswind legs. The into-wind and down-wind average is then used for the Handicap speed. Of the 12 aircraft tested, not one’s speed could be proved wrong. For example, one was tested at 161.07 Kts and achieved 162.08 Kts on day two. Another was tested 109.30 Kts and achieved 108.09 Kts on day two. Hopefully this will once again restore confidence in the handicapping system and result in a much larger field of contestants.

The race covered a total distance of 654.45nm over the two day period. The first day’s route took competitors from Tempe – Reddersburg – Zastron – Barkley East – Bethulie – Tempe. The fastest aircraft took off at 10h00 with the rest of the competitors following at 30-second intervals.

Worsening weather conditions with severe turbulence, driving rain and even sleet were experienced near Barkley East, Bethulie and Zastron, resulting in a number of competitors missing their checkpoints, or simply turning back to Tempe. Some pilots even reported having struck their heads against the roof of the aircraft due to the severity of the turbulence. Two competitors made precautionary landings on a private airstrip in the Rouxville district before returning to Tempe later in the day. At the end of the day only 27 aircraft completed the course by getting timed at all the points along the race route.
This left the organizers with a unique problem, should the normal rules be applied to the already small field of contestants. The jury had quite a long session with the handicapping/scoring committee and a penalty system (minutes per turn point missed) was introduced to keep everyone in the race. Extra time penalties were added to those aircraft that returned to Tempe without trying to move on to the next turning point.

The second day dawned with clear skies, but any icy cold wind made every one reach for their thickest jackets. The route was Tempe – Smithfield – Trompsburg – Tempe – Harmony – Bultfontein – Tempe. This time the slowest aircraft started just after 10h00 with the fastest starting last.

The race was finally won by Chris Briers and his brother Dries flying a 1973 Beechcraft Baron 58, ZS-CHL, who crossed the finishing line just after 13h00 at an incredible 198 knots! For Chris this was a personal triumph, as this is the 14th time he has entered the air race, having never previously attained any significant placings. Second were Errol van Rensburg and Andre Koen in their Cessna 182P ZS-PWC, while third place went to Harry Antel and Barry de Groot in their Grumman American AA-1A, ZS-VYI.

With several aircraft converging on the finishing line at once, it made for a very exciting finish.
In order to increase the number of competitors in the 2002 Presidents Trophy Air Race, race sponsors Imperial Aviation have offered to give everyone who brings another entry next year, R200 back on their entry fees.

Aircraft lining up for start
Aircraft lining up for start
Parked aircraft
Parked aircraft