Articles ANR

By Pamela Russell


The Northern portion of the SA Nationals in ANR took place a few weeks ago out of Brakpan Airfield. This past weekend saw the corresponding Southern event at the beautiful Stellenbosch airfield. Running parallel competitions allows for greater representation from all parts of the country and will hopefully continue to fuel the growing participation by Western Cape pilots.

FASH – pretty as a picture
While a Nationals is there to allow pilots to attain a set standard and be available to the Selectors, it is also always important to encourage new participants. So, there was an Open and a Sportsmans class, and the field included a team that had not flown any type of aviation competition before.

Competitors studying the schedule

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By Andre Venter


Competitors, judges and others

The Air Navigation Rally is a fun day depending on the weather, sadly this event was postponed on the scheduled day, due to the weather that was expected to reach the Highveld over the weekend. A new date was discussed and the event was moved to Saturday the 13th April 2024 which was to be held at the Brakpan Airfield.

I arrived fairly early to a sun filled airfield and found two entrants had already arrived and were sitting down to a hearty breakfast and a hot cuppa. The early birds of the day were two trikes who were out for their early tour of the countryside and a Giles G-202 that also on its way out.
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Krugersdorp Shelia Taylor ANR Nav Rally 08.05.2021

By Russell Dixon-Paver

A cool winter morning dawned fair, with a huge cloud bank, just above the horizon to the South West. Teams and aviation enthusiasts started arriving and coffee and breakfast was soon flowing from the revamped kitchen in the clubhouse. Just before 09:00 the weather closed in with a short downpour, causing spirits to sink somewhat.


Not to be put off by the typical “HMS Krugersdorp four seasons”, Francois Tolmay welcomed everyone on behalf of Krugersdorp Flying Club and Frank Eckard started the team briefing, outlining the really simple rules and stressing safety and having fun – “aviation with a purpose”. He had not been speaking long, when the weather started to clear, so he gave some “clearing time” by giving a brief background and description of the various SAPFA events and how the Air Navigation Rally format fitted in. The point was made that provincial and national colours could be earned by achievements in the ANR discipline.

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SAPFA ANR – Brakpan 15 August 2020

By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Willie Bodenstein

We are in one of the most unusual times in recent history, the year 2020 having such a perfect ring to it, has turned into a nightmare for many, with tragic economic fallout consequences as a result. Since April, the lockdown restrictions curtailed flying operations severely as well and with concerted efforts together with the regulator we were able to re-open to a limited extent flying, first for maintenance, then for proficiency and shortly thereafter the means to hold events.

Participants and officials
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2nd FAI World Air Navigation Race Championship Santa Cruz

By Willie Bodenstein. Photos by Barbara Freibose and Jonty Esser

Air navigation racing is a relatively new aviation sport, with this year’s championship being only the second world championships. This year’s competition was organized by the Aeroclube Torres Vedras on behalf of the FAI and in cooperation with the Portuguese General Aviation Commission FPA (Portuguese Aeronautic Federation).
The opening ceremony featured the F-16s of the Portuguese Air Force as well as Yaks, Pitts and others. 

Santa Cruz Airfield (ICAO: LPSC) is located 60 km North of Lisbon, 15 Km of Torres Vedras City, just a few meters from the beach and village of Santa Cruz.

The World Air Navigation Race (WANR) is a knock-out competition where teams representing their respective countries fly in elimination heats against each other. Precision flying, navigation and landings define this competition. The pilots have to fly along predetermined narrow corridors with irregular shapes at a specific speed. No GPS or other navigation assistance allowed. Teams are only allowed to use a compass, clock and map. All aircraft must enter and exit the corridors at an exactly predetermined time and at the end, must land without engine thrust from downwind in a one-meter box marked on the runway, for no penalties. Crews are penalised for flying outside their corridors and for timing errors. Penalties are also awarded for the landing.

Forty-three crews from seventeen countries entered the competition that started on the 5th of September and concluded on 13the with a gala prize giving dinner held at the Quinta da Almiara Winery ten minutes from Torres Verdas.
Five teams from South Africa entered. 

Thys van der Merwe and Mary de Klerk 

Mauritz du Plessis and Sandi Goddard

Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk

Jonty and Eugene Esser

Anthony and Pamela Russel

The weather throughout most of the championships boasted blustery winds, typical to coastal regions, but was not what the teams from South Africa were used too, as were the maps that they were issued for planning purposes. However, after the practice days, during which approximately 200 training flights were flown in which all competitors had the opportunity to practice navigation routes and precision landings, they were confident that they would do well.

Day one of the championships started with an early morning briefing as did all the other days.

Crews are handed their map with the printed corridor and are only given thirty minutes to plan their flight.

A typical daily task map.

Competitors have to fly along predetermined corridors with irregular shapes at a specific speed (normally 80 knots). The corridors are generated by sophisticated mapping software to ensure they are of equal length.


The South Africans hard at work planning their flights. 

Since aircraft was shared not only between the SA team members but also with members of the teams of other countries, start times were staggered to make provision for this. 
Images taken from the big screen of some of the tracks being flown.

GNSS loggers are used to log the flight track which provides accurate timing to the second. All flights could be tacked live and this brought a new dimension to the sport of air navigation races. In South Africa fellow racers and others were glued to their phones watching the races live.

The final day’s map showing the corridors in the shape of an aircraft that competitors had to fly in.
Instead of international rules, the championship was flown under local rules. Calculating the scores is a rather complicated system. For the navigation race scores only the first three routes were to be used to ensure that all crews had flown the same number of flights. The navigation score was then combined with the landing scores multiplied by ten which resulted in the final overall score.
First overall were B. Radomski and D. Lechowski of Poland followed by Y. Rabassay and M. Esteve of Spain with A. Scramm and A. Fuchs of France in third place.
Thys van der Merwe and Mary de Klerk finished in 12th place with Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk in 15th place. Mauritz du Plessis and Sandy Goddard finished 17th, while father and son Jonty and sixteen-year-old Eugene Esser 21st and husband and wife Anthony and Pamela Russel 35th.
The landings were won by B. Radomski and D. Lechowski of Poland with M. Osset and D. Benito of Spain in 2nd place with Mauritz du Plessis and Sandy Goddard taking the bronze in 3rd.
Thys and Mary finished in 15th, the Essers 21st, Hans and Ron 24th and the Russels 39th.
Considering that no more than five air navigation races have been flown in South Africa over the last two years, the performance of our teams in stiff competition with teams that regularly flew this type of air racing was fantastic to say the least.
More races are being planned locally for next year and the idea is to promote air navigation races as a spectator sport.



Brits ANR (Air Navigation race) Nationals Championships – 25 to 27 July 2019  by Rob Jonkers

The South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA) held a very successful ANR (Air Navigation Race) Nationals Championships at Brits Airfield, spanning 3 days from 25th to 27th July 2019. This event was the qualifier event for selecting the National team to represent South Africa at the World ANR Championships to be held at Santa Cruz Beach Airfield in Portugal from the 5th to 14th September 2019.

This newest form of power flying sport, still needs to take on here in SA, but with so much going on in the Rally arena in preparation for our 2020 World Championships, the ANR has taken a slight backseat, the last event was held in 2017. This meant that most participants were somewhat rusty in this type of event. Thus in the run up to the Nationals, many teams were practicing in prior weeks some old routes and some practice routes.

For this event, it was planned to be held over 3 days, with Thursday being a practice day, with Friday & Saturday the Nationals days. The weather outlook being winter promised to be good, with the usual winter inversion layers and early morning fog, and essentially pristine wind conditions, except for Saturday which had morning fog in the Johannesburg region delaying some teams to arrive, and where the wind picked up somewhat.


The Track shown of Route 3 – an anti-clockwise route

For this ANR, Rob Jonkers took up the role of Competition Director, with still unfamiliar finicky scoring software, which proved daunting with the second route, but eventually solved.

There were 11 crews taking part over the 3 days, with 5 Protea team aspirants to qualify for the team to represent SA at the World’s. There were 6 Sportsman or fun teams, most first timers to compete in an ANR event. For Thursday, Jonty Esser provided 4 practice routes, thus the teams had the benefit of practicing how to prepare the map, and fly the routes to assess how well they could maintain their track inside the navigation corridor.

In an ANR, there are only two objectives, the first being on-time at the start and finish gates, each second early or late attracts 3 penalty points. The second objective is to remain inside the corridor which in this case is 0.4 nm wide (+/- 800 m), any excursion outside the corridor also attracts 3 penalty points per second being outside the corridor.


 Competition Director Rob Jonkers briefing the teams on Saturday Morning


For this competition there were four routes to be flown, each at around 25 nm, so the course takes around 20 minutes to complete, which is nice and short but given the amount of concentration and focus required to stay within bounds, a very daunting contest. The navigator has the unenviable task of keeping the pilot on the straight and narrow, and the pilot has to keeping checking that the navigator is doing his job…. Two routes were flown on Friday and the other two on Saturday.


Team Pieter du Plessis & Hendrik Loots Plotting


Team Karen Purchase & Leon Bouttell Plotting



Team Tony & Pam Russell Plotting


The courses all had 10 legs (with the exception of route 3 with 11), which meant that on average the legs were around 1 min to 1.5 min in length, making flying these short legs quite daunting, as one is hardly on a leg when you have to think about turning onto the next leg, and keep track of the time.

The competing aircraft


First off was Jonty and Johnathon Esser in a C150 at 10h15 followed by the rest of the field in 5 minute intervals, some longer if there were aircraft being used twice by different crews. The next round started at 12H30, with the last crews in by 14h00. Then the big task of logger downloads, analyzing and printing results, which for route 2 was complicated by a software hitch, which was eventually solved.


 The teams of competitors


For route 1, Shane Britz and Karen Stroud had the best result with 393 penalties, and for route 2 Jonty & Jonathan Esser with 72 penalties. It was very apparent that if you make a mistake, to recover from it is proven to be quite difficult. In the later afternoon, a landing competition was held, with a barrier landing and a glide approach landing, the winner of this was Hans Schwebel with a score of 44 points.


Adrienne Visser & Piet Meyer plotting


For route 3, Tony & Pam Russell aced it with 15 penalties, which were for timing at the end point, with no corridor excursions, and for route 4 Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer with 99 penalties, although as Competition Director and having plotted the route a few days ago probably had a little bit of an unfair advantage…..


Ron Stirk & Hans Schwebel having received papers in the plotting area


Thys vd Merwe and Mary de Klerk plotting on practice day


Overall, for the 4 combined routes, Jonty & Jonathan Esser came in 1st place, and with the landings combined, the overall ANR champions were Thys vd Merwe & Mary de Klerk, followed by Jonty & Jonathan Esser in 2nd place, with Tony & Pam Russell in 3rd place.


Winning Landing in C150 ZS-NBT with Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk


 Shane Britz & Karen Stroud busy plotting


In the Sportsmans class, Leon Bouttell & Karen Purchase took 1st place, Shane Britz & Karen Stroud in 2nd place, Hendrik Loots & Pieter du Plessis in 3rd place.


Winning track of the Competition of Tony & Pam Russell


One of the tracks that went a bit pear shaped


The Google Earth Live track screen, the yellow track being the best of the day for route 4, and the red and green tracks with some wandering around the course up in the north end of the course




This event was for sure enjoyed by all, with the Nationals participants having made the cut-off of 20% of max score, and have been selected to represent South Africa at the World Championship this year in Portugal.


The Nationals Team selected to represent South Africa at the Worlds ANR event in Santa Cruz Beach, Portugal in September 2019



View from a Novice to ANR – Piet Meyer

My navigator and I have been taking part in the SAPFA Speed Rally championship and browsing through the events calendar, noticed the ANR National and just entered having no idea what it entailed. We were under the impression it is just another Nav or Speed Rally. Later when asking the start times etc. we realized that this is no easy and fun flight but the actual National championship for teams to qualify for the world championship held in Portugal later this year.

Adrienne Visser and Piet Meyer

The race format is a very tricky route which is to be flown at 80kts in a 0.4nm corridor. Penalties are allocated for time outside the corridor as well as for each second outside of the allocated start and finish time. Seconds count here and an early finish here will end you up in more hot water than an early finish on your wedding day. Part of the competition also includes two spot landings. One glide approach and one power landing over an obstacle. The Thursday 4 practise routes were flown with two official routes on Friday followed by the spot landings. Saturday two routes with prize giving in the afternoon and then the announcement of the teams qualifying for Worlds in Portugal.

We entered as Sportsman class just to compete and see how we stacked up against the Professionals. Having never done this type of race before we were nervous on Thursday and did the first practice run. Total mess as we missed the first turn and with legs being anything from 45 seconds to 2 minutes, a small mistake can cost you hundreds of points. Here the crew with the least points win. Getting some tips from the professionals, we did the second route and did better. Stayed in the corridor for most of the route. Third and fourth went even better. Our scores ranging from 1200 to 1700. I mentioned to my navigator that “we did not do too bad?” after she repeatedly had to say, turn, watch your speed, stay on track. I got that look from her with the smile that I give parents with new-born babies while saying “What a beautiful baby” although you hope for their sake that the little rat will turn into a human someday. The response from Adrienne “Not too bad. We can do better” ….smile…. One of the routes we scored just over 700 points so we were getting better. The top pilots scored under 100 for some of the routes with Jonty Esser and his son with a score of 23 in one of the routes.

Friday and Saturday, each team is allocated a take-off time, start and finish time. The routes are handed out 45 minutes before your allotted start time. You are given 30minutes to plot the route, 10 minutes to go to the plane and get to the runway for take-off. Then 5 minutes to get to the start and then cross the start on the exact time. Only maps and compass to be used so no GPS, cell phone, Fitbit, or anything allowed. For newbie pilots or those who are getting bored with the cabbage patch flying or the coffee at Zebula, challenge yourself to one of these events. Your skills as a pilot and navigator is greatly increased. My confidence in my flying as well as my aircraft grew more in this one weekend than in the hundreds of hours flying to go get a coffee. When I started flying and saw the articles of these championships and the guys with Protea colours, I always thought that this is way out of our league. I did not want to make a fool of myself amongst these flying gods of whom you read and always watch in awe from a distance. Even though it is a Nationals Championship, the atmosphere is relaxed. Pilots talk, help each other and give tips to us newbies. Everything is well organized with Rob Jonkers doing the official part of downloading loggers and working out scores. Brits Flying club did well in having coffee and food available and a nice fire in the clubhouse to keep all nice and warm in the morning.

Well done to SAPFA and all the guys involved to make this event possible. As a newbie to the sport, I can highly recommend all to try these events. It is not as intimidating as it looks and the knowledge you gain is priceless. Thanks to all for a great weekend and thanks to my navigator who is after everything still flies with me. So, all the weekend warriors, cabbage patch flyers and other flying professionals, dust of those maps, switch off the GPS and come join these SAPFA events. I must warn you however, it is very addictive and you will more likely be able to kick a Heroin addiction but this flying racing habit will stick and there is no cure. We are counting the days to the next event.