President Lucas Mangope Air Rally
Held in Pilanesburg – 9 March 1985
Two aircraft did not make the start due to technical problems, and so 31 pilots and crew, after attending the customary concise Tony Pennell briefing, set off on the first leg. The course was around the northern edge of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, and then back in a westerly direction along a long straight track to a turnpoint near Lobatse.
Penalties are calculated at one point for each second early or later than the prescribed time set to be over each checkpoint. One or three minute penalties are given for being right off track, or outside the 500m corridor. Each checkpoint carries a maximum three minute or 180 point penalty.
Once all down, the last aircraft being Gary Shield in a Grob 109, the pilots caught a quick lunch, attended the next briefing’and prepared for the second leg of the Rally.
This was a sort of triangular route in the Vryburg area, and included a double S curved track, a very difficult route to navigate and fly on. Unfortunately, a storm cell moved in overhead the airfield checkpoint at the start of the curved track, and Rally co-organiser Don MacKenzie had to hot foot it out of the airfield as he was the marshall there. This caused many pilots to miss several cheek points and complicated the scoring for the officials.
The final second stage checkpoint was overhead the Mafikeng town square where the celebrations were in full swing, and ended with an engine out landing task. Then was the time for talking, joking, pulling legs, and speculation. Pilots and crew set off for their their respective hotels in fine spirits as six balloons took of over the town, in the face of a threatening storm.