1986 Transvaal Navigation Rally

1986 Transvaal Navigation Rally

Grand Central Airport – ?? January 1986

By Renier Moolman

What a Team! What a win! John Adams and Colin Jordaan scored a hands down victory by walking off with all the prizes in the Transvaal Navigation Rally held recently.

Dennis Spence and Benny Coetzee
Rally director Mr Dennis Spence – set a high standard. Springbok Benny Coetzee looks on.

This was flown over a course of 255 nautical miles from Grand Central Airport.

Placed second was Dave Perelson and Malcolm Spence, from Algoa Flying Club in Port Elizabeth, followed by Barry de Groot and Barry Hall of the Aucor Flying Team from Pietermaritzburg.

The IRA Team taking part for the first time, scored their first team point with Tom Culver and Mike Winter taking fourth place overall.

The Aucor Team from Pietermaritzburg is the force of the future. A team that is fast becoming one of the best in South Africa. This was proven when Dave Mostert and Martin Hatfield took fifth place overall to once again be points scorers.

The rally was organised by well known airline pilot, sport aviation pilot and acrobatic instructor – Dennis Spence.

The entire route was carefully planned, flown and photographed by Dennis and his team from the Air Force Base at Swartkops, namely Dave Jackson and Keith Fryer. With this all done it was back to the drawing board and two more pilots from Swartkops – Pete Militz and Divvie Duvenhage were called in to help draw the morning and afternoon’s curved track in with painstaking accuracy onto the maps, which were supplied to the navigators for the rally.

Meantime, Dennis composed a concerto on his Hulett Packard mini-computer and all was set and ready for the day.

Thanks to Don Mackenzie, the Chairman of SAFE for kindly organising his members to do the marshalling during the rally. These guys attended the briefing and on the day of the rally, they did a splendid job under the hawk- eye of Trevor Miller.

The morning of the rally, the entire Highveld area was clouded in. Phone calls criss-crossed and pilots stranded on neighbouring airfield were given extra time and the opportunity to hedgehop over to Grand Central. Panic stations were sorted out in a jiffy thanks to Dennis’ Hulett Packard, as all take-off and overhead times had to be adjusted to the new take-off times.

After pilots’ briefing on the morning of the rally, all the guys were treated by “tannic Tess” to tea and “tekkie-buns”. With nerves running havoc, and Alan Blain from Aeronews conducting an interview here, taking a snapshot or two there, the planes took off with three-minute intervals, heading straight over the tower at Lanseria, which incidently was a secret checkpoint.

Placo Rand kindly 1oaned us a Cherokee-Six to ferry our marshalls to all the various checkpoints. The Six was skippered by Dave Jackson from 41-Squadron. Leaving the departing of the aircraft in the capable hands of Charles and Marie Wotherspoon, Dennis and I strapped on his newly finished Smirnoff Vodka Pitts 52A.

So we inverted out of Grand Central, winged-over Lanseria, looped into Rustenburg airfield and rolled to a neat halt in front of the clubhouse, much to the delight of the spectators. Dennis and I had hardly unstrapped the Pitts, when we heard Springbok Chris Kyle and Peter Lastrucci in EAD call ETA overhead – two minutes.

Soon all the planes started crowding the circuit to approach for the landings contest.

John Adams flying his old faithful Mooney Ranger (FHM), scored the best landing of the day with a total of eight penalty points. What was interesting was that the first place overall in the landings competition, was a draw between Kevin Caldwell (JTA) and Glen Dell with total penalties for the day of 30 each. The judges ruling was that because Kevin was the lesser experienced pilot and because his afternoon landing was an improvement on that of the morning, he was awarded the first prize.

Third place overall in the landings was taken by Peter Lastrucci from Krugersdorp in C-172 EAD and Dave Mostert was fourth in his Mooney (LHE). Rod Ackerman in KFF, a 161 Warrior was fifth overall.

Well of the promised sous-tannies, koekbroers and moerkoffie, little was seen at Rustenburg airfield for lunch. A sincere thanks to the organising committee who instead treated us to cold meats, salads and cold drinks.

After lunch, the real action began as this was the leg of the rally that was to sort the men from the boys!

Five minutes before Time, navigators were given their packages containing info, maps and photographs of the curved S-track from Rustenburg to the windsock at Krugersdorp Jack Taylor Aerodrome, where Jack himself and Charles Wotherspoon were there to see the chaps over the finish line.

On finishing over the windsock, the aeries were allowed to idle back to Lanseria for the final landing competition. Well, as I said, the curved track seemed to be a little tough for some guys; so, even if they cannot be given any points for following Dennis’ painstakingly accurately drawn track, I have to give them eleven out of ten for initiative for the checkpoints they created.

By the way, some entries decided along the way that the route home is straight and shorter than to the finish line, resulting in the judges at the finish point still waiting to clock them overhead – 1986 calender in hand.

With all the participants safely home, the pilots, navigators, wives, girlfriends, mistresses, casual acquaintances etc. etc. were treated to “horse- on-the-spit”, some fine paraphernalia, liquid sandwiches and-all.

So a thousand calculations, multiplications, malfunctions, and so forth later, it was time for jubilations, indignations, I-told-you-so’s and one admirer even suffered a mild attack of Vitas Gerulaitas.

Well time for me to fly-goodbye, and to leave you with this thought. Although flying is becoming a very expensive sport, there can still be only one winner, but without you and you, taking part there won’t be any winners, so go and learn from this experience, and you too, will become a winner. C’est La Vie