2005 Air Observer South African Rally Flying Championships
Held at Brits on 17/18 June 2005
After a number of venue and date changes the 2005 National Rally Flying Championships was eventually held at Brits on 17 and 18 June 2005.
The main sponsor of the event was Air Observer, the manufacturer of the very successful logging system. This logger is used by most Inter-national flying teams and is now breaking into other fields like road rallying and rolling stock monitoring. It was also used at the recent National Microlight Championships.
Of interest this year was the participation of the Association of Virtual Aviation in the event. This was their first attempt at rally flying and I am sure that the experience they gained will assist them in developing their own events or enabling them to compete at SAPFA events.
2003 World and 2004 South African Champions Nigel Hopkins and Dale de Klerk were not able to take part in the competition due to other commitments so the event would turn out to be fiercely competitive between the other top teams.
Also participating after a year’s absence was Adrian Pilling with a new navigator Francois du Toit. It was also pleasing to have some new entrants in the competition including the Warden team who flew in open class. I am sure it was a different experience for Glen when compared to flying the Mirage III. The other new teams of Lamond/Siebert and Linakis/Carstens entered in Sportsman’s class which was held as a single day event on Saturday only.
The event was run strictly in accordance with the 2005 FAI International rules and included the changes that were introduced including a curved track, tracks following features and sealed instructions.
The route and plot for day 1 was difficult with the aircraft routing south of Brits with a curved track along the FAJS TMA as marked on the map. There were 18 en-route photos and 8 turning point photos that had to be identified. On return there was a scored landing at Brits.
With the new innovations in the sport it is now possible to score a team on timing, photo recognition and landing within a few minutes. The small field also meant that the aircraft could be set off with 10 minute intervals in between. Teams received their final scores before the next aircraft landed.
The results after day one were close. Leading the pack were Jan Hanekom and Hugo Stark on 262 points. They were followed by Barry de Groot and Mary de Klerk on 282 points, Frank Eckard and Quentin Taylor on 314 points. In 4th position were Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk on 316 points despite Ron suffering from a serious bout of flu. They were followed by Adrian Pilling and newcomer Francois du Toit on 424 points. A single photo can cost as much as 50 points so the gap between 1st and 4th represented only one photograph. A very close result!
Day 2 started with a bit more tension between the front runners and the usual poor winter visibility. The clue sheet contained a sealed section that could only be opened during the flight and a section where the route followed a railway line. Day 1 leader, Jan Hanekom had also caught the flu and should really have stayed in bed.
There was a small panic amongst the organisers when it was realised that the final clue on the clue sheet was incorrect. ZS-MOR was launched quickly and was used as an airborne platform to broadcast the correction to the competitors in the air – no damage done.
Day 2 results were also very close with only 82 points between 1st and 4th. The “Flu” teams both suffered a large penalty for an incorrect identification of the photograph at the start. Despite a protest the photo was included and the 100 penalty points they incurred had a dramatic effect on the results.
Final results were:
- 1st Barry de Groot & Mary de Klerk – 522
- 2nd Frank Eckard & Quentin Taylor – 558
- 3rd Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk – 570
- 4th Jan Hanekom & Hugo Stark – 634
- 5th Adrian Pilling & Francois du Toit – 746
- 6th Ernie Alexander & Mike Ehrman – 1 786
- 7th Walter Walle & Dale Joseph – 2 860
- 8th Glen Warden & Dale Warden – 4 518
Sportsman’s Class was won by the team of Paul Lamond and Chris Siebert followed by Chris Linakis and Blaine Carstens. The virtual rally was won by Johan van Wyk with Harry Mole in second.
The competition also saw the awarding of provincial colours to two navigators, Hugo Stark and Francios du Toit. The competition also culminated in the announcement of the squad for the 2006 World Rally Flying Championships to be held in Troyes, France.