2006 PTAR – Participant Comments

Participant Stories posted on Avcom

Race 35

Grumpy & I got away rather late on thursday morning, firstly due to me having worked until 3:30 the previous evening and my lack of proper preparation and leaving the aerie keys at home. We had a lekker flight to Klerksdorp and landed uneventfully and found our parking place very easily.

I did my test flight much later than booked due to logistical problems, but was perfectly comfy with that. It is hard to imagine how big a task it is to herd 110 prima donnas, nuff said.

We made the mistake of not renting a car, Big Mistake & we relied on the availability of transport from J’Meister, which worked out beautifully. We had accommodation booked at Everwoods Guest House which was booked a couple of months ago without knowing what we were going to experiene. When we walked into this establishment, we were amazed. It was absolutely magnificent, spacious & had a complete pub etc. As quick as you like, our hosts organised us supper for no less than 18 people (there were only 2 of us who were living there) which included a mushroom & snail starter, & a succulent rump steak with biltong on top , smothered in whipped cream, garnished with a salad.

After our briefing we descended onto this spot & they had enough space for all of us to do our plotting & planning for the next day. We were rewarded for our planning with an absolutely fine dinner.

Grumpy & I flew our first round on friday amd only beggared up a little bit on our nav.

The whole lot of us then descended after briefing to our spot & had a braai of note, plenty salads, steak, boerie, lamb chops & chicken sosaties. We had organised a little bit of Jagermeister too & had a couple of toasts. I sneaked away quietly on both evenings.

The big race was on day 2 & we did worse than the day before but had huge amounts of fun. Suffice to say, my nav & I did not exchange any expletives to each other during the race, we were too busy talking about softness & their wonderful attributes, just something we do when we are together in a cockpit.

We did not go to Springbok either & ended up 60th.

I attended the banquet with agression & trepidation cos I do not enjoy wearing a suit. Mrs RV had to go out & buy me one & bring it with her when she drove down with Mrs Flush to spend some time with us pigs. It was actually very pleasant.

To SAPFA & Kassie & all the people involved, you have no idea how much I enjoyed my 1st PTAR. You guys did an absolutely sterling job. I have never been final # 13 before.

Race 86


Great time had by Nasser, myself and my bitter-half. Will most certainly do it next year again. This time will use the Yak as it has a bit more in terms of instruments. The little Samba only had a compass that was drifting between 15 and 30 degrees off track. Somewhat difficult to fly accurately in this regard.

The Harvard (owned and flown by John Sayers) did a forced lob about 20 Nm south of Lichtenburg. We flew overhead a few minutes later and am pleased to say that he did an awesome job with putting her down, wheels extended and all. I helped guide the rescue helicopter to the scene and they were able to get her out and back to FAKD after refuelling.
My only gripe is the number of pilots that bitch and moan about handicaps etc. As I’ve said before, one cannot please all of the people all of the time – especially when dealing with testosterone laced pilots.

I think the organisers did extremely well and should be commended. Graham Conlyn did his utmost to preserve safety despite crappy responses from some of the competitors. In my opinion he did well. It amazes me that some people still regard safety at these events with some disdain it appears. I have no problem listening to somebody like GC explaining safety procedures and precautions – safety should be on everybody’s mind.

We had to do a precautionary landing after take off today due to a high oil pressure indication. This spoilt things a bit for me as the little Samba did its job despite the crappy compass.

Thanks to Nasser and everybody else that made this a great weekend.

Race 8

TEAM LOW AND SLOW (Race 8’s experience).


On day 1 we flew well but never saw any other AC as we were one of the slowest at 100kts and took off second last. Our AC ( C150 ZU-CVA ) does not have the range for the race flying at full throttle I have installed a 40L tank and pump, pumping blue juice into the wings. Halfway through we realized that only 30 liters has been pumped and then the pump stopped! This took ou calculated reserves down to 20 minutes. We therefore managed this by flying the last leg at cruise power and landed safely with 20 minutes ( actual) of fuel remaining. This cost us a lot of places and we finished day 1 in 35th pos. The broblem was found to be a broken wire inside the power plug! Chinese !#!@#@
On day 2 we flew even better and did not have a fuel transfer problem. Nav was a tad difficult at stages and also the decision making – the old story – do we go high or harvest mealies on the more or less cross wind legs. We finished day 2 in 12 position and my software showed that our actual distance flown was 330NM while the direct track measured 327NM. A nav error of 1%! Overall position – 22nd!

I have beeen involved for many years now and actually started the test flights by logger thing 5 years ago. In my opinion it is becoming better and better each year. Just look at the closeness of the results this year.

Race 26

We had a great time – it is a pity that the military were having an exercise and covered the Zeerust airfield with camoflage when we passed it the first time. (Embarassed)

We did not know if we had gone around the turning point or inside (disqualification) so we did a large orbit so we did not clash with incoming traffic. The second time around they had removed the camo and it was so visible from miles away. I do not know why we did not see it the first. That cost us about 6 minutes. Combined with a handicap issued by a handicap committee that refused to take my test flight into account, we really had no chance so on day two we had some fun – no pressure. Overall position – 78th – my worst so far.

I found the nav difficult but we managed to fly fairly straight. This is still the best event on the aviation calendar.

The dissapointments:

  • The number of pilots that try to cheat during the test flight. Pulling circuit breakers so cowl flaps stay open, leaving flaps on, putting on the di-ice so the boots destroy lift, etc
  • The number of people who sit in a briefing without a pen and paper and then fly dangerously then next day because they cannot remember what the procedure was.
  • The number of people that cheat by using GPS

Race 94

Navigators Perspective

This was awsome. A true must for anyone who thinks he can navigate. After flying this you either know that you can or you realise that you actually never could.

Thanks for the oportunity pilot. You flew brilliantly and taught me a lot when it came to navigation.
As for the race – the last leg back to Klarksdorp was the worst on my nerves. We knew that we did well during the nav but we were also well aware that some time was lost on the second last leg by drifting slightly to the west. Luckily we realised this early and manage to recover without incurring too much lime lost.
Two miles after the Lichtenburg turning point we passed the leading aircraft (I think this was Kassie’s sons). We could hear the chasing fultures call over the Lichtenburg TP. This is where the nerves started to show. I was tempted to pull out the list of race number to see which one of them where going to catch us first but was quickly admonished by my pilot who told me that my job was to get us back to Klerksdorp and that there was nothing we could do about the chasing vultures.

At twenty one nautical miles out (thanks RV for the tip on mile/minute markers on the track) the Harvard passed overhead. He was about one mile ahead of us when I noticed him changing direction. I was busy telling my pilot this when we got the MAYDAY call. We could see them turn at us with the gear down and whatched them all the way down. They did a perfect landing in the field and we could report that they were down safely, on track, 21 miles from Klerksdorp. This put us back in the lead!!!!

At ten nautical miles the Albatros passed us and we were hoping that they too would run out of fuel but no such luck. They left us behind without even saying hello. By now we could see our end destination and I threw my map and notepad into the back. I must have twisted my neck in an attempt to see who was chasing behind or who was going to pass us.
The feeling passing second over the finish line is impossible to describe. Also taxiing back and being placed in quarantine and being searched by Kassie when we climbed out was unreal!!!

I say again – this is a event not to be missed by any aviator.

PS It was only on receiving the trophy that we found out we were second over the line but actually came third.

Pilots perspective


Seeing that this was the first race for both myself and my navigator, we set out to have fun. This we achieved due to the great organisation that in spite of one or two mistakes led to a great race for all. It is also fun to meet likeminded people and off course fellow Avcommer’s.

With this being said, it is more fun to do well than badly. We believed that if we planned well we could do well and just enjoy the flying. The stategy was to make the most of the wind. With our speed we were going to spend more time in the wind than most of the field so if we could maximise its effect we could do ok.

We therefore did various models for the predicted winds at different altitudes and based our planning on that. The Jabi climbs nicely with only 2 up and we could afford to fly higher than most on the downwind legs. On the legs into wind we flew as low as possible, even adjusting our track slightly to make low level navigation easier.

On Day 1 we felt that we did OK, but the race started for us after the times were posted and we were placed better than expected. The planning effort for Day 2 was doubled after that.

Because we sometimes flew quite a bit higher than everybody else we didn’t see everybody that we passed on day 2 but at least we also didn’t see anybody pass us till Lichtenburg. Just after the turn at Lichtenburg we passed a 172 and we believed that we were leading based on the lack off calls over Lichtenburg untill then. At this stage the radio sent the adrenalin flowing with various calls over Lichtenburg, with us not knowing how much faster these guys were than us. At 20 miles out I saw a shadow run past us as if we were standing still. Looking up the bright colours of the Harvard dashed our hopes that we could hang in there for another 9 minutes.

Not even a minute later the Harvard turned left sharply and called in his Mayday. I watched him land right under my left wing, hoping that he would not mess up forcing me to abort the dash for the line in order to call in any problems. We could just see his his perfect landing come to a standstill before he got too far behind us and headed on while reporting the position to FAKD. We were leading again.

At 10 miles the Albatros flashed passed, but by this time we sort-of expected it to happen. The last 2 minutes was agonisingly slow, expecting more fultures to snap up their prey.

It was a huge rush to go over the line in 2nd place. A feeling that has not been removed by being adjusted to third (with a team starting late being the actual winners).

I guess we can say that we had a dream race for our first one. Thanx to everybody that helped to create the fun and for all the congratulations. We didn’t fly a perfect track and made some mistakes, but I guess our stategy and planning paid off. I was also impressed with how the Jabi handled the turbulance and strong winds.

I think we were also helped by a kind handicap speed for some reason. We flew the test flight just like we flew the race but I believe that the J400 has a few more knots in it than what the handicap commitee believed.

Maybe it was just a trick to make sure we come back again… So what, it will be fun again and that is what is should be, I don’t think that you will end in your fair position too often; there are too many things beyond your control.

Race 5

Best organised event I been to (5 as participant and 3 as spectator). Other than having arranged a test flight and the whole exercise taking 6 hrs on thurs and then being ignored it was a great race.

Well done to Dan on winning it after a couple hiccups at start. They did not have the lux of the aluminium highway on day 2 which makes the feat even more admirable. We found it a bit frustrating when the T tail passed us on Day 1 like we were standing still, 4 min’s after the start.

Day 1 – Had camera on belly and in cockpit for TV crew. Good flight/nav from start to Zeerust, but then pilot got cocky and I Foched up Focheville. Found it, but via Carltonville rather than straight in. The low level stuff over Potch was a contentious issue, but in competitors defence it was straight into the wind and organisers should possibly have routed around rather than over. Climb from 50′ to 1000′ costs plenty time and review of results reveals that this is not feasible. 63rd on day 1 Not happy, but we had fun. No truth in the rumour that the belly camera was smacked off by a tree branch. (May have been duck sitting on baberspan, but definitely not a branch.

Day 2 – Excellent nav on first portion of figure 8 back to FAKD. Know Wollies and FALI area very well so again got cocky and went sight seeing. 73rd on day 2 – Not happy – But excellent fun.

Overall position 68th. Under (handicap) circumstances we could not have done much better than maybe 60th.
Dinner/Prise giving – Superb. Decor, finesse was excellent. Support from participants in formal wear was excellent.
Couple thoughts on handicap speeds which sadly for me are now becoming a huge factor in my future participation. We are flying better and better and moving further and further down the results page. Last year was our best race (in terms of distance and track) and we finished 53rd. This year our handicap speed was put up by a further 3.63kts. Protests and justification for this decision were met with less than satisfactory responses from the powers that be. The test flight was done and was within 1% of the required track, headings & heights. The result was not published, but I have my own logger (which was on for the test flight) and it reveals that the result was in region of 148 (and some change) kts. We got 154.53 regardless. This equates to 10mins on this years route added to our time before we start as we know from 5 years results what this particular plane is capable of. (Avg speed in last 5 years races is 147.55kts. (Finished all races and haven’t missed a TP)

Regardless of the sight seeing we only did an extra 6.08nm over the entire race which is less than 1%. The frustrating thing then comes in when tracks show orbits to find TP’s, 90deg heading changes and these guys beat us by a country mile. The logger technlogy is huge and it is sad (and frustrating) that these are ignored completely when they are available.

Motivation is low when you know before the race starts that based on your (new and increased) handicap speed you WILL be a FURTHER 10 mins down if you fly a perfect race. Last year we flew an additional 5.12 nm over the whole route and were placed 53rd. Could not have nav’d better. Pilot has 1200hrs on that plane! Speed achieved was 147.01kts in headwind race. Handicap was 150.9. Quote from last years logger analysis.

“The tracks flown on Day 2 were also flown fairly accurately. The leg from Koffiefontein back to Tempe seemed to catch most participants as that leg showed the largest deviation by most aircraft. On an overall basis the shortest distance (of aircraft logged) was flown by Race 56 – ZU-APZ flown by Dieter Bock and Mark Steyn and the second shortest distance by Race 5- ZS-KSZ flown by Wally and George Brink. These competitors were placed 52nd and 53rd respectively. As mentioned above there are other factors that affect the speed of an aircraft but both these teams are experienced and their positions must be (at least partly) due to a harsh handicap.”
And this year the handicap was increased!!!!!

Rant not over yet. Will take a long time for wounds to heal, and I fear I am not alone. There are a number who share the same sentiments. I fear that the handicap comm are loosing the plot. My take on handicap (as keen golfer) is as follows:
You are handicapped based on your ability represented by previous results. Handicaps fluctuate, but are based on fact. Each person is different and will have up’s and down’s. Similarly the aircraft are different and it it unlikely that 2 aircraft will fly exactly the same speed over a given course. I feel that given this fact it would be more prudent (fair) for handicaps to be based on an aircraft basis than a type basis. At the moment it feels a bit like telling a 12 handicapper that he has to play of a 8, because last year a 12 handicapper had a great round or 2. Other alternative is to fly a NTCA, as these have to be test flown.

Not stirring, but have genuine concern that the sponsorship and other factors are clouding the objectives of a handicap race. The technology is there but is being ignored. There were almost 50 loggers at the event. Each aircraft could have been test flown and handicapped accordingly. I quiet happy for any one of the Uber pilots to actually fly the test flight and I will accept the result. There are those that will cheat regardless, but a response from officials like “buy a better/faster aeroplane if you don’t like your handicap speed” is BULLSHIT, short sighted and egotistical to say the least, not to mention plain stupid! I have no delusions of grandeur of ever winning one of these, but at the moment we just there to make up the numbers….. Before event started when handicap was confirmed we guestemated we would be 65th.

Race 3

My navigator and I echo your posting and agree that this PTAR was the best we ever had. Kassie K and his team organized a superb event and we are going to be first in line for “our race number” for next year because, apart from the fun, my navigator would like to finish his 4th decade of PTAR with a total of 30 races.

The handicap issue is as old as the PTAR and winning it has very little to do with your flying and navigational skills but all to do with your allotted handicap speed. We were advised by e-mail that our handicap speed is 121.6. About a week later I received another e-mail that a test flight must be done to establish a handicap speed.
On Thursday we had our test flight, by one of the most experienced test pilots, who are also a fellow competitor, and the 4 leg, 30 minute test flight indicate an average speed of 121.5. Point .1 slower than the advised handicap speed.

What could be fairer than a “real handicap speed based on a real test flight”?

Friday morning before the race when we received our new handicap speed we overnight became the fastest C172 in the history of the race. My navigator after doing his time calculations said that our race is over even before we started because we were pushed back with some 34 nm. In time.

We could not have flown faster or more accurate and it was indeed not much fun when a slower handicapped aircraft past you on the second day with 2 hours of the race still ahead of you. A couple of year’s back Chris Briers stated for the record that he will not fly in the PTAR again until the handicapping is sorted out.

My navigator and I made peace with the fact; even now that Chris is part of the committee that handicaps will not be sorted out in our life time. Most importantly, once again, we met and made new friends and shortly we are going to have a “get together in the Kalahari”

Air to Air ship

I have not enjoyed my flying so much for a long time.
FPI was ‘Skycam One’ and tasked to take footage around the course. I had Gert Ungerer jnr in with me without the door and front seat (Blimey it was cold). It was like WWII

We chased some aircraft out of Klerksdorp on the first day taking air to air footage as they ran low and fast on the first leg. We circled at 1000 feet agl overhead the airfield as they took off with Gert spotting as his (young) eyesight is better – he called in a group of competitors (mostly 172s Jabs and Cherokees as we could catch up with them). I then rolled into a dive and with one eye on the ASI, overhauled the tail end charlie and took up formation a few wingspans away with the camera rolling. Then moved onto the aircraft in front. we then returned to overhead Klerksdorp to pick up another gaggle and repeated the process. Then it was off to Focheville having calculated our arrival time there before the first competitor came through. As Gert jumped out with his camera, the Glasair streaked through. Focheville aviators were all there to watch the race and they got going with an impromptu braai – thanks chaps!!!

Repeated the exercise on Saturday on the 1st leg to Kroonstad before breaking off to get to Parys before the 1st aircraft arrived. Long low level final onto 06 and shut down as the Cessna 150 turned the pylon. All the Parys’ aviators were there too.

Got airborne again after the last competitors passed – again with Gert spotting we got some more footage – stayed with Cherokee ZS-ESU to the next turn at Klerksdorp then climbed out to 2000 feet agl to turn with the stream again shortly after the first aircraft crossed the line.

Crossed the gate and then joined the guys coming in to land and committed a big error – I orbited as I could not fit in – should have gone back through the gate and re-joined the queue. In the 30 seconds it took to swing round the circuit had widened and came a bit too close for comfort to Chris in MOR – sorry guys – it was stupid!

The queue took us over Vaal Reefs – five miles wide! and landed with a nasty crosswind up to 20 knots across runway 36!
From a spectator’s point of view, the atmosphere during the weekend was electric – I loved every minute of it – the place had a huge buzz.

Race 40

As a new member, I would like to concur that the PTAR is a must for any aviator. It is difficult to deal with many of the issues, but I must admit that to have been the only aircraft to have its handicap increased after day 1, even after the required test flight, by some 14kts certainly left a bad taste. This was our third race, we have been test flown twice and we have had our handicap changed every race after the first day. So to plan etc does certainly present some problems.

Hopefully through considered input the race will continue to improve, and I must say that the sponsored fuel was a great plus, especially for a plane as thirsty as ours.

If you look at the handicap speeds posted for day 1 after the test flights, and those posted at the briefing the next morning, there were 81 that remained the same from the first day, 10 were reduced and one was increased, ours!!!!! Our test flight (after the test pilot had forgotten his logger) produced a result of 179.60kts. We have been handicapped the two previous races at 185.27kts. So we were happy with this result. It was increased by 13.6kts for the second day. No explanations, even though we have put in a query etc. We had observed Rule 6 in that every thing must be flown at full throttle during the test flight, and we also have our concerns as to engine management, but in the “spirit of the race” we complied. The simple fact of the matter is that we get better performance through other configurations that would be achieved from full throttle, then why get penalised on this basis. We averaged 188.11 on the first day and 188.33 on the second day. Had a logger for both days, flew well, made use of the winds, being a larger plane, the winds etc were not to much of a problem, and we climbed in order to make use of them and achieved 210kts on some of the legs. In addition, we had our turnings sorted and averaged about 204kts in the turns. We did everything that one could to achieve the maximum performance out of the plane that one would not see on a test flight, and got handicapped out of the race, then again the comments posted are similar to the ones that we got, only Beechcraft win this race, or don’t even bother with a turbo charged twin other than a Beechcraft. I cannot wait for the feedback forms in order to get our comments and hopefully suggestion through in order to keep this the race it SHOULD be. We need to remove the reliance of sponsorship that imposes personality constraints on a national event.

Race 75
It was my first PTAR and what an experience. To fit 109 or so aircraft into the airspace and all going flat out takes some doing. But then again, that’s why we fly… We are a special and privileged breed!


Day 1 was met with some apprehension after receiving our handicap. We had effectively been excluded from the race before it even had started. We had test flown the C172 on 3 previous occasions to determine its max out speed – 110kts! We had requested a test fly which did not seem to change anything – we were still stuck at 116.19kts! Yeah right, down a bloody mine shaft and a tail wind! I worked the nav out on our handicap speed and this just did not work out right. We were on track except for a slight off course approach to Focheville. Mistook an airfield close to Focheville as the turning point. Quickly corrected and it became a dice to FAKD. John in FPI tagged onto us and speaking to him later confirmed that they had got some great footage of us and yes CAA, reasonably low level over Potch but not as low as the Baron! We were down on time. Our handicap stank big time. As for Daryl’s comment pertaining us moaning only says that he was happy with his! Let’s see if they want a Yakkety YAK to win next year!

Day 2 worked much better as I worked the nav out on what we believed the true handicap of MYO should be. Oh boy, we were on the numbers. We had a tussle with ZS-IXL Grumman 5 all the way! I also think they should be dissatisfied with their handicap. But it was fun all the way. Picked some mealies and scared some birds.
As for handicaps, being new to the game I personally think that with so much technology around handicaps shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe the H Committee should look at past race results, logger info etc. I think if this should persist then it’ll discourage guys who really want to participate. Our logger track of day 2 proves that we were spot on yet well out of the race. Anyway’s, we’ll be back next year! The organisers must just inform us timeously which aircraft type they want to see winning and we’ll go right out and get one! Hornets nest a brewing…….

Race 95


In my eyes personally the race should go on, it is heaps of fun, and teaches us GA people new skills in both flying and naving! My own experiences of the 3 races I have participated in have been great!

My experience on this years:
Thursday we arrived earlyish, and fuelled and sorted papers out etc then had a looooong taxi to the end of the field (Race 95). We did not test flight in the end. Had an awesome dinner at the lodge where RV and Mr. Grumpy were staying. Planning then followed….

Race day 1 was great actually catching some the so called quicker planes ahead, got locked into a nice battle with ZS-MYO and ZS-FUG and a cherokee 180 on the last leg, JM think you got some nice footage of it.
End of day one saw us in 36th place, we lost a bit of time when coming into Focheville, some had moved the airfield 1nm to the left of us ha ha.

Race day 2 was even better, catching Race 102 and Race 1 within the first 5nm, and getting caught up by Race 1 again. We stuck with them all the way through to the finish.
The flying was spectacular, the company even better!
It was the best run race that I have competed in, many thanks to all who participated and who made it possible!

Race 49


I have had my fair share of handicap chirping in the past and probably was seen as a bad sport – well this time around thought I’d shut up have fun and take it from there – Shocked then was given a 6kt increase in my previous race handicap and flew what I believe was an excellent track logged and at the speed exactly 6 kts slower than the 142kts allocated. Was told by handicap committee that if I want to be competitive then I must “get another aeroplane” I thought the race was for allcommers and all aircraft regardless of make or type – so unless I want to pay a good few thousand having a doddle around the course I guess thats it for me ….. cant help thinking I’ll be back for the fun of it cos a new plane for the race is out of the question!!! Maybe Comrades is a better bet – I’ll get the organisers to hold me back for 45 minutes at the start……what a joke !!!! yeah I’m pissed !!!! but no long analysis this time!