WORLD FLYING CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2004 – Part 3 – The Precision Flying Championship

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Incorporating the 14th World Rally Flying Championships,
and the 16th World Precision Flying Championships

Herning, Denmark – 14 to 24 July 2004.

By Chris Booysen

Part 3 – The Precision Flying Championship

Tuesday, 20 July

Ron Stirk teaching the French to sing Shosholoza.

Exhaustion is starting to set in!! The rally closing function in the evening was the normal fun filled affair with SA teaching the rest how to sing Shosholoza. There is no break between the two competitions and this morning the official practice was held. We are satisfied with our performance for the day but found that some of the wizz wheels have an error which only showed up because they used 29 knots as the wind for the theoretical test.

Our results for the practice show that we have made some silly errors. Hopefully we will eliminate those in the competition. The pilots are finding it fairly simple to stay on track as the maps are accurate and there are plenty of features to use as navigation points but photo recognition is a nightmare. The photos are of trees and fields and there are thousands of places out there which could match the photo. There are no trig beacons! We are also picking up the ground markers.

It is interesting to see that the Polish pilots do not minute mark the track but rather put a time next to each feature that the track crosses. We mark every 30 seconds which means we have to interpolate the times past the features whereas they have the time on the map.

Wednesday, 21 July

The first competition day did not go well for South Africa. Bad luck and silly mistakes cost a large number of points.

Nigel leads the group with 94 points. A perfect track all around the course on time except for about a minute or so – at the secret. This costs unnecessary points. He is followed by Ron on 405 points and Hans on 496 (0 on CP’s but way out on secrets). Jan is on 516 (circling error for 5 sec = 200 pts), Barry on 607, Dale on 1 000 and Walter on 1 101. Ernie had a real bad hair day and returned with two empty loggers.

At the evening briefing we are told that two ground markers are cancelled. A “P” is thrown out because the wind blew the canvas and some pilots thought that it was a “F” and a secret checkpoint marker is cancelled because the marker is stolen during the day (and we thought this only happened in South Africa).

Poland takes the lead after day one with Krzysztof (Christof) Wieczorek ending the day with 6 points. He is followed by Marek Kachaniak (Poland – 32 points), Petr Opat (Czech – 33 points) and Janusz Darocha (Poland – 41 points). Nigel’s 94 points puts him in 14th position followed by Ron in 44th.

Thursday, 21 July

Nigel with one of the 3 SA Bingo’s.

The landing test comprises four landings. A normal landing, two forced landings (one flapless) and a landing over a barrier. To win in this competition you need to have at least two “Bingo’s” and the other two landings must be within a metre of the bingo line

After the first landing most of our team put themselves out of the running except for Hans who has 3 points for landing one metre long. Hans bingo’s the second landing and is given a +2 (4 points) for the third landing even though he clearly landed in the bingo box. At this stage two other pilots (M Bartler and N Strube) have 4 points so we are in the running. For the last landing Bartler gets a zero and Strube is marked as a +2 even though is appears to be a zero as well. The landing system used is unreliable but the points will be corrected after watching the videos of the landings.

The pressure is now on Hans who must zero the last landing. Unfortunately he gets a -6 metres which means he will fall well down the rankings

After all the protests (4 Polish and 1 French) the final results are published. First is Natalie Strube on 4 points after a successful protest. The French team had decided to accept the official results but were persuaded by adamant SA support to protest the scoring of one landing. Second was M Bartler (Poland – 4 points) and third Vahama Harri (Finland – 12 points). Nigel is the best from SA in 5th with 16 points followed by Dale and Hans in 27th and 28th. Poland loses 3 of their four protests. I can think of a better way to spend $100 per protest.

Friday, 22 July

I am starting to find out what it means to be a manager. It is the last day of the competition and you are expected to pay for flights still to happen at an office to which you have no access (in case you get some information that will help your team).

Apart from that it is the final day of the competition. There is a weather delay of 3 hours due to fog which only adds to the tension. We need to do well today to regain some lost ground. After the landings we have Nigel in 9th place and then our next position is 48th. At this stage we are lying ninth in the team competition.

The day is badly effected by weather. Ernie has to bale out after flying in IF conditions and some of our team (especially Walter) are badly effected by rain squalls that make it impossible to get to turning points due to low cloud and rain.

The results for the day are better with Nigel scoring 51 points. Jan also has a good day with a total of 200 points. The are once again a number of protests so final scores will be available tomorrow.

The day ended off well with an informal function. A number of fun awards were made recognising the officials and those that had had some slip ups. Walter was recognised as having the landing that delayed the beer drinking the most and Ernie received an award for having the best turned off logger. Brady and Chelsea de Klerk also received awards for the best junior assistants.

Saturday, 23 July

A bus tour to Legoland has been organised and most of the team are on this bus looking worse for wear. It has been a long two weeks but we are on the home straight.

From L to R: P Opat (2nd) Krzystof Wieczorek (Winner) and Waclaw Wieczorek (3rd).

The awards ceremony was held in the Herning Congress Centre. First is Krzysztof Wieczorek (Poland) with a total of 71 points followed by Petr Opat (Czech) on 93 points and Waclaw Wieczorek (Poland) with 108 points. Nigel Hopkins is 5th on 161 points. The team gold medal goes to Poland, followed by Czech Republic and France. South Africa end up in 7th position. The landing trophy (individual) as well as the trophy for the best woman pilot goes to Natalie Strube of France. The team landing trophy was awarded to France. Full results are available on theFAI site.

The team have been disappointed at the results as the expectations were high after the win (individual and rally) at Pilanesburg last year. There is no need for this as an analysis of the results since 1990 show that our rally results were only bettered last year and in 1999 while the precision results were only bettered in 1994 (individual). From a team result point of view we have ended in our average position since 1990.

The event has been a great learning experience and we will have to make adjustments to our training over the next two years if we want to improve our placing in the world rankings.


Pictures taken by various team members
Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk
The Brits Shoe Dance
C172 - OY-AHY
C172 – OY-AHY
Sunset at Herning
Sunset at Herning Airfield
Herning Airfield
Herning Airfield
Herning Airfield
Herning Airfield
Dale de Klerk and Nigel Hopkins
Waiting for Take off.
Ron Stirk, Jan Hanekom, Hannes Czserveny
Ron and Jan with Hannes
Nigel Hopkins and Jan Hanekom
Nigel and Jan waiting for take-off
Hugo Stark
Hugo planning route to Mirabo

South African Rally and Precision Flying Team Logo

World Flying Championships Logo - Denmark