WORLD FLYING CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2004 – Part 1 – The Practice

Air BP Logo


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 1 – The Practice

The Air BP SA Flying Team departed from Johannesburg International on Thursday 8 July. After the long flight via Amsterdam (Frankfurt and London for some of the team) all arrived in Herning. After a quick shower the recce squad drove out to the airfield to see what was in progress. The French team had arrived the previous day and were practising. The UK and Polish teams arrived during the afternoon.

Only one aircraft was available so it was decided that the team would take the night off and start in earnest in the morning. The night was spent with some team building and the team went to bed early – or so we thought as we were back at the hotel before sunset at approx 11:00 pm

Saturday, 10 July

2004 World Flying Championships -Herning
Jacques Jacobs, Chris Booysen, Walter Walle, Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk sorting out the loggers

By 8:30 all the team were at the airport. We only received one of the aircraft, and this one with a flat oleo. The rest of our aircraft were supposed to arrive but the weather to the North was not good. Only the deliveries of aircraft from the South could take place. We were kept busy with initialising the loggers and plotting the practice route for the day. As the day progressed the weather got worse. Frank Eckard and Quentin Taylor managed to fly the practice route (at 300 ft AGL) and Walter Walle and Ron Stirk had an interesting flight after flying the owner of the aircraft he was using home. Chris Booysen took Jan Hanekom and Hugo Stark (by car) on an aborted attempt to collect an aircraft at Viborg. By 14:00 it was raining over the whole area so we called it a day and went back to the hotel.

Once again we made some (special) friends at the local pub – especially our judge observer – Jacques.

Lets hope it clears tomorrow!

Sunday, 11 July

2004 World Flying Championships - Practice conditions
Jan Hanekom and Hugo Stark flying in the rainy conditions.

The weather has cleared a bit – still a low cloud base and a temperature of in the low teens. We managed to get all teams to fly at least one practice route. Timing and navigation seems fine but all are battling with finding photos. Most teams have only found one or two photos per route. Frank and Quentin flew the same route again and this time managed to get the photo count up significantly. Still not good enough but if we improve at this rate we will be fine. The maps are extremely accurate but are road maps so do not have some features on them eg. power lines. The wind power generators are also not normally marked – but there are so many they are not good navigational features.

Most teams from the other participating countries have arrived so it is getting busier at the Herning airport. At one stage finals looked like Heathrow with 3 or four aircraft on finals appearing out of the gloom.

Some humour was added today when Ernie Alexander and Mike Ehrman went for their first flight. Ernie was battling a bit with the unfamiliar radio and was calling Herning Tower. Eventually he heard a reply “Ernie – can you hear me” Ernie replied – “Yes – where are you?” “Sitting right next to you” says Mike.

Monday, 12 July

Mike Ehrman plotting a practice rally
Mike Ehrman plotting a practice rally.

The weather reminds me of Port Elizabeth in winter, overcast with wind 290/25G29knots, and it is supposed to be the middle of summer in Denmark. At least the cloudbase has lifted which allowed some more serious practice.

Nigel Hopkins and Dale de Klerk joined the team today. For them, an eventful flight with Nigel arriving with some luggage missing. At least he now knows what it is like to sit in the back!

The practicing is starting to have some effect and we are now finding far more photos. We also have all our aircraft at last so we are more settled. The wind is causing a problem on the downwind legs but the organisers will probably be working a wind factor into the planning which will make most teams happy.

Our main competitors, the French and Polish teams are putting in some serious practice. We will have to pull out all the stops to retain out status as World Champions.

Tuesday, 13 July

Up early today as Ron and Hans wanted to practice without major traffic. When we arrived at the airfield at 6:30 we realised that it would not be fun today. The cloud base has increased to approx 2 500ft AGL but the wind speed has increased. The official wind at the airfield was 25G30 but at 1000 feet he wind was more like 35 to 40 knots. After our experience of the previous day wind was taken into account when calculating times so that it was easier to maintain time

We have made up two new routes and flown them taking photos. The photos for the routes that Nigel brought back from the Danish Nationals have already aged. The colours are all different and that is why we are struggling with photo recognition. Times and number of photos spotted is improving flight by flight.

Wednesday, 14 July

2004 Worls Flying Championships - Opening Parade
Opening Parade – Herning.

Not a very active day today. Hans, Ron and a few others were at the airfield at 6:30 to practice some landings. After that we had the first official briefing at 9:30 followed by lunch and then back to the hotel. The weather has closed in and it is raining again. We marched through the city center of Herning to the town hall in the rain. After a few speeches and the flag raising we were entertained by the Herning City Council. The food here is outstanding. Snacks and free beer made it difficult to leave but tonight will be an early one so we can be prepared for the official practice tomorrow.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is good but then deteriorating from Friday again. Hopefully we will get in enough flying to make it an official competition.

Thursday, 15 July

Jacques Jacobs – Judge Observer with Mike Ehrman

The official practice was held today. The field has been divided into two with three of our teams in each group.

The official practice is a dry run and is run according to the rules. At the marshals briefing it was recognised that Jacques Jacobs, our Judge Observer, was one of the most qualified so he was appointed to do the debriefing. This has only added to the permanent smile Jacques has had since leaving Johannesburg.

Once again the weather was poor and some of our teams battled in poor visibility. Overall the results were not what we have hoped for and a few silly mistakes need to be eliminated. Rather in the practice than in the event. Nigel and Dale did well with 18 timing penalty points but slipped up a bit on the photos. Hans managed to “Bingo” the landing so we have some positives for tomorrow.

The good news is that the weather is clearing and we now have all the aircraft for both events. As it is a dual event there is practicing allowed by the precision pilots during the rally event. Walter at last managed to get some practice in today even though he had lent most of his equipment to other members of the team.


Pictures taken by various team members
Herning Airfield
Herning Airfield
Hans Schwebel checking his mail
Jan Hanekom and Hugo Stark
Jan and Hugo
Herning Airfield - Finals
Finals clear
Herning Airfield - Finals
Finals rain
Hotel Eyde
Hotel Eyde
2004 World Flying Championships Herning
Ready for opening
2004 World Flying Championships - Opening Function
Opening Function
Frank Eckard
Frank Practicing
Walter Walle
Walter Walle
2004 World Flying Championships Post mortem
Postmortem of practice
Blue Sky at Herning
Blue Sky at last!

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