Cato Ridge Rally Flying Competition

Cato Ridge Rally Flying Competition

Held at Cato Ridge on 17 September 2005

by Adrian Pilling


Quentin Taylor & Frank Eckard
Winners Quentin Taylor and Frank Eckard with Mary de Klerk

Barry de Groot and Mary de Klerk, along with their helping team and the crew at the Cato Ridge airfield had been clearly working around the clock in order to bring a competition to the flying fraternity, of a suitable international standard. This they achieved magnificently.

Friday night the crews assembled for a welcome supper and briefing on the course. Maps were prepared and crews familiarized themselves with the new rules and requirements. An interesting aspect of the competition was that the Virtual Flying Association had computerized the scenery for the route and were preparing to compete on a virtual basis the next morning. An early night was had by all.

Saturday Morning

The day dawned hot and sunny. The crews attended the morning briefing and synchronized their watches. The weather was extremely hot and a most unwelcome change for the crews that flew in from Gauteng who had just come out of a reasonably cold winter. The crews were sweating in more ways than one as they sat in the sweltering heat and prepared themselves for the envelope to arrive that signalled the start to the competition.

One by one, at five minute intervals, the crews were handed their envelopes and after the required 15 minute interval, launched themselves into the air to begin the competition.

The navigators worked feverishly to plot the new tricky curved and railway line routes. These they handed to the pilots who had to fly the course accurate to the second, all the time plotting photographs and ground markers, a high work load indeed, and in sweltering heat.

The route took the crews out over the Valley of the Thousand Hills and down to near La Mercy before turning inland towards Pietermaritzburg and then back to Cato Ridge. The organizers were cunning in the selection of their turning points and set the course to world standards. This was a great baptism of fire for the SA Team members who are to partake in the World Championships in France in 2006.

The course made cunning use of contours and rivers. The roads and towns were not easy to navigate on and the crews really had to change their approach, especially those from Gauteng, who are too used to their own patch around Brits.

To be honest the performance of the majority of crews was extremely poor. The sportsman’s class did well considering their inexperience. The open class however were shocked to find that they had missed turning points, got lost over difficult terrain, forgot to switch on their GPS loggers (part of the scoring system) etc.

Quite incredibly Adrian and Francois who were competing had an anxious moment when, due to a vapour lock, the engine stopped on leg 11. They managed to execute a perfect forced landing into a farmer’s field and walked away, no damage at all. As a result they incurred maximum penalties for the balance of the competition. All in all, way far too many penalties were incurred by all the competitors at a competition that was not too difficult even though it was set to a high standard.

On their return to Cato Ridge after flying the rally the landing of all teams was recorded and the scores added to their penalties to calculate the final positions.

The crews had an opportunity to fly the course again using the virtual course prepared by Andre and his hard working crews who had painstakingly recreated the route. Well done Andre and team, you helped us sort out our problems, please keep up the good work.

Our hosts once again did us proud by providing a fantastic braai to accompany the prizegiving:

Final results (Open):

  • 1st Place Frank Eckard & Quentin Taylor
  • 2nd Place Adrian Pilling & Francois Du Toit
  • 3rd Place Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk
  • 4th Jan Hanekom & Hugo Stark – 634

Sportsman’s Class was won by the team of Warren Neupen and Steve Erasmus followed by Robert Naismith and Ashley Gill. The virtual rally was won by Johan van Wyk and Mike Robertson with Rassie Erasmus and Buks Hugo in second.

A fantastic time was had by all. A big wake up call for the crews indeed. Well done to Barry, Mary and the crew at Cato Ridge. Till Next time�


Pictures courtesy Denise Booysen
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Virtual winners
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Waiting for start
Walter and Ron
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cuan Bond
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Johan & Mike
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Jacques and
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Andre and
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Forced lob
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
Cato Ridge Rally Competition - 2005
End of a
long day