March 2016

Virginia Navigation Rally 2016

(by Rob Jonkers – Photos Cheryl Smit, Mike Wright and Rob Jonkers)

Durban Wings Club hosted the annual Virginia Navigation Rally on Saturday the 5th March. While the skys were clear and sunny, a very strong wind was blowing down the coast, this challenged the competitors to slow their aircraft down while flying south and trying to get the most speed while returning  up the coast.

My navigator Martin and I flew down in the Reims the day before from Wonderboom without a cloud in sight all the way, and not even the traditional haze experienced in coastal areas.

The rally was organised by Mary de Klerk, this being her home stomping ground, knowing the area well. Friday afternoon was spent at the flight school of Durban Aviation Centre who hosted their facilities for Mary to give a lecture on the intricacies of flying a rally and for the fun teams to register and start their route plotting to be ready for the next day.

Thereafter everybody chilled at the pool side of the Durban Wings Club for a boerie roll braai before turning in for the night.

On Saturday morning competitors started arriving at 7.30 for the briefing and to complete and check their plot. The Open teams had to wait for their papers as the plot is done in the aircraft. The first aircraft was off at 9h30 with the route southbound with the start point at Cooper’s Lighthouse, then further down the coast all the way to Ifafa Beach, and then turning inland.

The wind was around 20 knots down the coast, making it very tough to keep to the nominated speed, all the teams zig-zagging and crabbing along the course at full flap, most could not keep to their allotted time over each check point, as the wind pushed them south.

After Ifafa the route got more interesting and difficult, now the wind was from the front requiring full power to compensate, and the terrain rising as well. Finding the next check points throughout the peaks and valleys not an easy task, especially for the Vaalies only being used to the flatlands up north, and then finding that elusive waterfall at checkpoint 6 which was probably a dry waterfall had many competitors lose the track including us, making recovery at the following checkpoints difficult to achieve.

The finish was over the old Durban airport and then return to Virginia via the harbour mouth for a long final onto Runway 05 for a spotlanding on a black line which was elusive to see on the black tar runway against the contrast of the sun, and also had to contend with windshear as the wind the dropped off being blocked off from the seawards facing dunes.

All in all a real fun day in challenging conditions. In the fun class 1st place went to Troy Marais & Darren Holstead who flew a C150


And in the open class 1st place went to Frank & Cally Eckard in a C172. In the landing competition 1st place went to Bennie du Plessis and 2nd place to Rob Jonkers in a C152 & C172 respectively.

Thanks extended to the Durban Wings Club, especially Cate Juselius for hosting the event and run by the enthusiastic Mary de Klerk, the two flying schools Durban Aviation centre and Virginia Flight School for supporting the event with entrants, and Tyrone from Comav Insurance all the way from Gauteng supporting the event with wonderful prizes of an enraved leatherman for each of the winning team,  as well as photographer Mike Wright who donated aviation magazines as prizes.