This year’s EAA Sun & Fun flying event was planned somewhat differently from previous years where precision rallies were held, with a view that for EAA members a more fun flying event was needed to be tried out.
This task was left to Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer to devise a new kind of rally format, a big risk to take in the realm of the tried and tested rally formats. The prime objective was to make it real fun, with easy to follow routing.
Thus over the last four weeks, a route schedule was hatched with a route proving flight undertaken to check that the route would be do-able and interesting to fly. The outcome was a route through the scenic Magalies valley, north up through the platinum belt, then south-eastwards along the crocodile river into game bush country.
The format was in the form of a pre-defined route map that was available prior to the event starting for everybody to either plan their route with traditional map plotting tools or to program their GPS’s.
Each route’s leg had turning point photographs to be recognised (either being correct or incorrect), then a few questions had to be answered on ground features or sites that were historic or scenic, mostly cryptic in nature. The booklet contained a section of wiki notes ( compiled courtesy of daughter Jenni) that would enable the crews to answer all the questions – with a warning – “Don’t read at your peril….”, and guess what…., most forgot to find the answers in the most obvious place…. Some crews of course were googling for answers on their cell phones – because they can – somewhat inefficient given everything was right in front of them.
Initially 21 crews registered, with 14 confirming at briefing time, a few had to withdraw with aircraft serviceability problems, and one unfortunate entry had their aircraft blown upside down at Lanseria on Wednesday. In all for such an event a very good turnout, with a broad spectrum of aircraft participating, from the fast RV10 doing 120 knots, to the slowest a Piper Cub at 55 knots and even an Alouette 2 helicopter taking part – they of course had the best view out the window to do photo recognition.
After the briefing, and with 20 minutes prior take-off – of handing out papers, the first competitors took to the skies at 9.30, with the last off at 10.30. The weather was thankfully cool with a few rain showers around, although around 11 am, a rain squall with windy conditions passed by the airfield. Most competitors got around the course without deviations, although some had to skirt around the rainy parts towards the last of turning points.
With everybody successfully home, it was time for marking the exam papers which was left to the strict invigilators Rene Clulow and Marita Rudolph to record the points. Between the clues and photo recognition, a total of 38 points could be scored. When all was tallied up, it ended in a tie of 31 points for first place between Piper Cub pilot Pierre Dippenaar, and the team of Thys vd Merwe & Mary de Klerk, and given the possibility of such an eventuality, the winner had to be chosen from a draw of cards “aces high”. The first draw turned out to be another tie…. of queens…., much to amusement of the watching audience, the second draw then determined the outcome with Pierre winning the top spot.
Thus came to the end of a hopefully enjoyable day for everybody who took part, and given the large amount of competitors, it should bode well for doing this again sometime in the future, and in the words of SAPFA chairman Frank Eckard, “this is a new way of converting Avgas into Fun”. Many thanks are extended to the prize sponsors, Dennis Jankelow Associates, Comav, Shell Aviation, Comet Aviation Supplies for their support to this event.