September 2005

EC Precision Flying Championships

Held at Uitenhage on 24 September 2005

By Roger Thomas

I was quite indecisive and very non committal about entering the Eastern Cape Provincial Precisions competition. After having achieved some taste of success in normal rally flying with my team member Tracy Simms, it was pretty intimidating thinking that I now had to do the navigating, time keeping and picture spotting and all simultaneously too!

Marshalls setting up the landing box at the 2005 East Cape Precision Flying Championships
Johan Gous, Ray Limbrik and Ronnie Zucher setting up the landing box.

What if I got lost? That was by far the greatest fear – then all would know for certain that I was the ‘handicap’ in the Simms/Thomas rally team. Also in a precision competition, being a solo event, there would be no one to blame or share the blame with. Scary!

Add to this mix the fact that the likes of the real Springbok manne like Hans Schwebel, Ron Stirk, Mauritz du Plessis and Barry de Groot would be competing in the same competition at the same level as you. That is enough to frighten anyone off.

I delayed my entry, at least until I could attend a tutorial session along with Thinus Maritz, AJ van Rensburg, and a rival team on the rallying front, of Johnny Ferreira and Anthony Bailes. The tutorial session led by Dave Perelson re-introduced us to the whiz wheel and other aspects relating to the theory of precision flying. It was clear that, other than Anthony, who flies commercially, all of us had not touched a whiz wheel since our PPL theory. By golly – that thing is actually darn useful – and it doesn’t require batteries.

Ron Stirk lining up for a Bingo at the 2005 East Cape Precision Flying Championships
Ron Stirk lining up for a “Bingo”.

With theory lecture done and a little more confidence, I decided to give it a go. What is the worst that can happen? I could end up having some fun at worst (and maybe get laughed at too by your mates – but hey, I have learned to laugh along with them). With a field of 16 competitors I might not even come last.

The trip out to Uitenhage was pretty uneventful, other than the butterflies in my stomach wanted to fly their own way to FAUH. I think the worst of it, was the fact that my take off time was pretty late in the morning, so the nerves really had time to fester themselves. Luckily Ursula Schwebel was on hand and she had some little calming pills to take care of the little suckers that had now grown to full maturity in my intestines. Who knew that some of the aforementioned manne also required tummy settling pills?

Finally, it was time to do my bit. The theory section went pretty much as I expected and for a first timer, I was happy with my 16 out of the maximum 350 penalty points.

The one thing I did learn was that there is more than sufficient time between the theory and the actual flight to prepare your map. I had enough time to really study the map in detail and to try and almost visualize the flight.

Winner of the Sportsman Class - Rod Crews with Denise Booysen
Rod Crews (1st Sportsman Class) with Denise Booysen.

One aspect that I slipped up on, was relying too heavily on local knowledge. I believe that being a local can sometimes be a handicap. My slip up was that I looked at the start point and thought to myself – ahh, I know where that is – I have flown past that railway junction a million times – all without really confirming the location as you would normally if you had no local knowledge. Needless to say I started at the wrong point about 2 miles to the East of the actual start. After the start I thought to myself – Wow this wind is strong, as I confirmed that I was way East of where I should have been.

This faux pas was responsible for me incurring quite a number of time penalties for the first 2 legs as I struggled to get back on time. But for me, my main aim for the day was not so much being on time, as it was not to get lost. I accepted that I was not going to win a precision my first time out! 😉 I believe there are some school fees to be paid in partaking in these events and thus also did not concentrate too much on photo identification.

On to the spot landings. Okay so now I had to remember the order in which they had to be performed. First is a normal approach, second was to be a glide approach closing the throttle at 1000ft on the downwind leg abeam the landing grid, the third a glide and no use of flaps, and lastly over the 2m obstacle. I resorted to writing N, G, GF, O on my left hand thumb so I would not forget the correct order.

2005 East Cape Precision Champion Barry de Groot with Denise Booysen
2005 East Cape Precision Champion Barry de Groot receiving his trophy from Denise Booysen.

I was pretty happy with my spot landing performance until the last one. I still want to object to the marshal who dropped the obstacle as he thought I was going to hit it! Bloody chicken! I was far from hitting it! 😉 Ah well I still had loads of fun, and quite honestly I do not think the 400 penalties incurred on that one landing were going to make a huge difference to me coming third last in the competition!

I think I talk on behalf of all the competitors when we would like to thank Dave Perelson, Glen Meyburgh for the great competition – it really was loads of fun. Also to the marshals of the day Chris Booysen, Jacques Jacobs, Francois Knoetze, Marna Kruger, Alison Leitch, Ray Limbrik, Denise Booysen and Ursula Schwebel, for standing in the sun and wind so that we could have the fun day. Also to Glynis Truter who drove a barrel of the good stuff (Avgas) to FAUH to assist with refueling. Many thanks also goes to the residents of the Uitenhage airfield for allowing us to use the airfield for the day and giving us right of way, not to mention the tasty refreshments they had for us on sale, especially to Johan Gous, Herman van Teylingen and Ronnie Zucher. Lastly, thank you to the out of towners for taking the time to come to Port Elizabeth and contribute to the spirit of the competition – we really enjoyed having you visit us.

If you have never taken part in a precision or rally and thinking about it – go for it. From the little experience I have gained – if you approach it with the attitude of going to have some fun – I can guarantee you that you will!

Cato Ridge Rally Flying Competition

Held at Cato Ridge on 17 September 2005

by Adrian Pilling


Quentin Taylor & Frank Eckard
Winners Quentin Taylor and Frank Eckard with Mary de Klerk

Barry de Groot and Mary de Klerk, along with their helping team and the crew at the Cato Ridge airfield had been clearly working around the clock in order to bring a competition to the flying fraternity, of a suitable international standard. This they achieved magnificently.

Friday night the crews assembled for a welcome supper and briefing on the course. Maps were prepared and crews familiarized themselves with the new rules and requirements. An interesting aspect of the competition was that the Virtual Flying Association had computerized the scenery for the route and were preparing to compete on a virtual basis the next morning. An early night was had by all.

Saturday Morning

The day dawned hot and sunny. The crews attended the morning briefing and synchronized their watches. The weather was extremely hot and a most unwelcome change for the crews that flew in from Gauteng who had just come out of a reasonably cold winter. The crews were sweating in more ways than one as they sat in the sweltering heat and prepared themselves for the envelope to arrive that signalled the start to the competition.

One by one, at five minute intervals, the crews were handed their envelopes and after the required 15 minute interval, launched themselves into the air to begin the competition.

The navigators worked feverishly to plot the new tricky curved and railway line routes. These they handed to the pilots who had to fly the course accurate to the second, all the time plotting photographs and ground markers, a high work load indeed, and in sweltering heat.

The route took the crews out over the Valley of the Thousand Hills and down to near La Mercy before turning inland towards Pietermaritzburg and then back to Cato Ridge. The organizers were cunning in the selection of their turning points and set the course to world standards. This was a great baptism of fire for the SA Team members who are to partake in the World Championships in France in 2006.

The course made cunning use of contours and rivers. The roads and towns were not easy to navigate on and the crews really had to change their approach, especially those from Gauteng, who are too used to their own patch around Brits.

To be honest the performance of the majority of crews was extremely poor. The sportsman’s class did well considering their inexperience. The open class however were shocked to find that they had missed turning points, got lost over difficult terrain, forgot to switch on their GPS loggers (part of the scoring system) etc.

Quite incredibly Adrian and Francois who were competing had an anxious moment when, due to a vapour lock, the engine stopped on leg 11. They managed to execute a perfect forced landing into a farmer’s field and walked away, no damage at all. As a result they incurred maximum penalties for the balance of the competition. All in all, way far too many penalties were incurred by all the competitors at a competition that was not too difficult even though it was set to a high standard.

On their return to Cato Ridge after flying the rally the landing of all teams was recorded and the scores added to their penalties to calculate the final positions.

The crews had an opportunity to fly the course again using the virtual course prepared by Andre and his hard working crews who had painstakingly recreated the route. Well done Andre and team, you helped us sort out our problems, please keep up the good work.

Our hosts once again did us proud by providing a fantastic braai to accompany the prizegiving:

Final results (Open):

  • 1st Place Frank Eckard & Quentin Taylor
  • 2nd Place Adrian Pilling & Francois Du Toit
  • 3rd Place Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk
  • 4th Jan Hanekom & Hugo Stark – 634

Sportsman’s Class was won by the team of Warren Neupen and Steve Erasmus followed by Robert Naismith and Ashley Gill. The virtual rally was won by Johan van Wyk and Mike Robertson with Rassie Erasmus and Buks Hugo in second.

A fantastic time was had by all. A big wake up call for the crews indeed. Well done to Barry, Mary and the crew at Cato Ridge. Till Next time�


Pictures courtesy Denise Booysen
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Virtual winners
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Waiting for start
Walter and Ron
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cuan Bond
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Johan & Mike
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Jacques and
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Andre and
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Forced lob
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
End of a
long day